Monday 26 August 2019

Sugrue ready to take on 'one of the big boys' after Offaly victory

Laois 0-20 Offaly 0-15

Derby duel: Martin Scully of Laois tries to escape the clutches of Offaly's David Dempsey in Portlaoise. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Derby duel: Martin Scully of Laois tries to escape the clutches of Offaly's David Dempsey in Portlaoise. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

John Brennan

'The Kingston Brothers' - they sound like characters who might have been slipped into Only Fools and Horses.

The thing is, Offaly footballers weren't laughing in O'Moore Park in Portlaoise on Saturday night when Donie scored six points and Paul got four to propel Laois past their neighbours and into the last 12 of the All-Ireland.

Ruairi McNamee of Offaly is tackled by Laois's Gareth Dillon. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ruairi McNamee of Offaly is tackled by Laois's Gareth Dillon. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Both Kingstons were wonderfully accurate as they took command of this Round 3 qualifier with their kicking for scores, something to which Offaly had no answer.

The teams were tied at 0-10 apiece at half-time, but Laois had been getting their scores that bit easier and when they got their chance to play with the wind in the second-half, the scores flowed for them - and dried up for Offaly.

Chance

These have been a good 18 months for Laois footballers.

Graham Brody of Laois celebrates at full time. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Graham Brody of Laois celebrates at full time. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Back-to-back promotions in the league and a Leinster final date last year have been followed up by next weekend's chance to enter the big-time.

"Yes, that will be the test," said their manager John Sugrue. "That will tell us where we are.

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"No more than ourselves, Offaly were a Division 3 team this season, next weekend we step in with one of the big boys."

He paid a special tribute to one of the team's veterans, 36-year-old Ross Munnelly, who bagged a brace of points.

"Look, there have been times this season when I've had to give Ross the news that he wasn't playing," he said.

"And every time his response has been to turn up earlier than anyone for training and practise his frees and his kicking. He's a great player."

The start of Saturday night's match was delayed by 10 minutes to allow the crowd get into O'Moore Park, as Offaly brought a huge support.

Their team put forward a decent effort, but the road back to the top is long and their manager John Maughan admitted that after the match.

"Laois were the better team - no question about that," he said afterwards.

"As regards their development, you can see they're streets ahead of where Offaly are right now. We've an awful lot of work to do in the physicality of our boys as regards our development."

Apart from the bit of quality provided by the Kingstons, a huge issue in the second-half was that Laois subs such as Evan O'Carroll and Eoin Lowry made an impact on the match, whereas Offaly's replacements struggled for traction.

"Ah yeah, we knew that," added Maughan.

"And I'm not being disrespectful to my own boys there.

"Some of them are stepping up to inter-county level for the first time in their lives so it takes a bit of time to adjust to that.

"Laois have a lot of depth in their squad, their bench was strong and they made an impact when they came in."

So Offaly know what they need to do for next year, but now Laois face their big examination next Saturday or Sunday.

One more win and dates with the big guns await.

Scorers - Laois: D Kingston 0-6; P Kingston 0-4; K Lillis, R Munnelly, C Murphy, E O'Carroll 0-2 each; E Lowry R Pigott 0-1 each. Offaly: R McNamee 0-4; N McNamee, B Allen, P Dunican 0-3 each; A Sullivan, J Moloney 0-1 each.

Laois - G Brody 7; S Attride 7, D Booth 8, G Dillon 6; M Scully 6, R Pigott 7, P O'Sullivan 6; J O'Loughlin 8, K Lillis 8: D O'Reilly 6, D Kingston 9, T Collins 6; P Kingston 8, C Murphy 8, R Munnelly 7. Subs: E Lowry 7 for Munnelly 48mins, E Buggie 6 for O'Sullivan 52mins, E O'Carroll 8 for Murphy 55mins, S Byrne for Lillis and D O'Connor for O'Reilly both 64mins, D Seale for Attride 67mins

Offaly - P Dunican 8; D Hogan 7, E Rigney 6, D Dempsey 6; C Donohoe 5, J Moloney 7, N Darby 7; E Carroll 5, P Cunningham 7; S Horan 6, A Sullivan 7, C Mangan 6; B Allen 7, N McNamee 7, R McNamee 7. Subs: M Abbott 6 for Carroll 49mins, P McConway 5 for Cunningham 55mins, J O'Connor for Donohoe 60mins, S Tierney for R McNamee 72mins

Ref - D Coldrick (Meath)

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