Monday 24 September 2018

Sugrue aiming high as Laois look to build on league

Sugrue (p) was named as the county's sixth manager since 2010, following on from Seán Dempsey, Justin McNulty, Tomás ó Flatharta, Mick Lillis and Peter Creedon. Photo: Sportsfile
Sugrue (p) was named as the county's sixth manager since 2010, following on from Seán Dempsey, Justin McNulty, Tomás ó Flatharta, Mick Lillis and Peter Creedon. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Every time the Laois football manager's job came available in recent years, which was quite often, John Sugrue's name was linked.

His coaching CV displayed a good record at club level and experience with Kerry but for one reason or another, the Portlaoise-based physio couldn't make the commitment, before this year.

"It was one of those things, just with time before," he explains. "I was involved with South Kerry a couple of years back and we had a young daughter. We had our second child at the time, literally between two county finals we had our second child, a little lady, so two young kids and then we were building a house immediately after that and we got into our house last year. And then it was maybe time to take on another project again. Now, whether it was time or whether it wasn't, I just had that little bit of freedom to go time-wise and put a little bit of time into Laois football."

Sugrue was named as the county's sixth manager since 2010, following on from Seán Dempsey, Justin McNulty, Tomás ó Flatharta, Mick Lillis and Peter Creedon. Over that period of time, Laois have seen a remarkable decline as they played in the top flight as recently in 2012. This year they operated in the basement division.

Part one of Sugrue's mission was complete when the county secured promotion and followed that up by beating Carlow in the final to claim silverware. And this evening they start part two when they travel to Innovate Wexford Park to take on the Slaneysiders in their Leinster Championship opener.

But the Kerry man insists he is not viewing the Laois job as a 'project'.

"Well, to be honest, I wouldn't really necessarily see it that way," he says. "I think we've got to try and see where this bunch of Laois footballers can go in year one and then we'll decide what the story is but I really do think there's a need for an energy and a new energy in the county and there's a need for people to focus on what way the game can be played to some degree and how to get the best out of the players.

"It has been a merry-go-round (the Laois job). Who knows, I might only have six weeks left in this job given the recent history of how managers have come and gone but at the same time I think the players need a degree of consistency and hopefully they're getting that this year within our campaign so far.

"And if we can apply our principles of play and our principles of how we're approaching things fairly consistently we'll see how we go in the championship."

And he insists there is enough talent in the county to make a competitive team, given the right structures.

"I genuinely think in most counties you've got enough to be competitive to a great degree. It's just a matter of getting your house in order and getting the nuts and bolts of what you're doing fairly consistent and fairly strong, as best you can.

"Laois football is and has been perceived to be in a poor place for a while but looking inside, I think there's emerging teams there. Portlaoise had a very strong grip on the county championship to a great degree. They have a couple of guys who've been involved in that bid for 10-in-a-row still involved.

"Their time will come as well though and other clubs' time will come if they keep their head down, if they keep working hard at it and get back competitive. If you lie back on your back and look up at the sky all your ever going to do is look up at it. If you stand up, you're closer to the sky than when you're lying down."

Irish Independent

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