Sport Hurling

Thursday 22 February 2018

Healy: Tribesmen clash a good yardstick for Laois

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

LAOIS hurler Cahir Healy is convinced the O'Moore County are on the right road after hitting their "lowest ebb" over the past two seasons.

The championships of 2011 and 2012 saw defeats to Cork, Dublin and Limerick by an average of 27 points, but a Division 2A league title this year followed by championship wins over Antrim and Carlow have provided a new sense of optimism ahead of Sunday's Leinster semi-final with Galway.

"Last year, we were probably at the lowest ebb Laois hurling has ever been at," said Healy (below) who was named the Opel GAA/GPA player of the month for May. "We haven't been at too many high ebbs either, so that tells a lot about where we were.

"I think we just got our act together in terms of our commitment and effort in training and we stabilised during the league. We won the league, which was our big goal at the start of the year."

A return to a provincial semi-final caps a remarkable turnaround since Teddy McCarthy's decision to step down after just one season in charge last year. The Corkman had replaced Brendan Fennelly, who also lasted just one campaign.

Paul Cuddy and Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett were appointed to find McCarthy's successor but with no suitable replacement available, Plunkett took on the job, something that was a factor in Healy's decision to concentrate on hurling after football took priority the past two seasons.

Healy had previously played both codes, playing 140 minutes of championship in one grim weekend in 2010, losing narrowly to Carlow in hurling before a one-point defeat to Tipperary in football the following day.

"It just got to the point where I felt I was going nowhere with two games," said Healy, who was picking up his hurler of the month award for May.

"Hurling was always my first game when I was growing up. That was purely why I picked it. I'm 26 now and I felt it was time to pick a game and try and be good at one rather than be mediocre at the two of them."

A competitive performance against a Galway side that haven't seen championship action since last year's replayed All-Ireland final represents a huge leap for Laois, but Healy sees it as an opportunity to find out where his side stand against the heavyweights after the hammerings of the last two years.

"What we'd be looking at is to put up a performance and see what we're at. What this is going to tell us is how much progress, if any, we've made.

"If we go out on Sunday and lose by 30 points, have we made any progress from last year or the year before? The results will say no, so (we want) to find out where we are because we're two divisions behind them. We have not hurled a team like them all year."

Irish Independent

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