GAA Expert & Columnist
Jamesie O'Connor: Laois hurling can build on Dublin victory
Last Updated: 09/07/19 12:29pm
Sky Sports analyst James O'Connor reflects on Laois' stunning win over Dublin, and ponders if the O'Moore County can build on the success.
A friend of mine buried his father-in-law earlier this year, who was a massive Laois hurling supporter. This was a man that would have ducked out the back of a family communion or confirmation in Dublin, to sneak down to a Leinster round-robin game in Dr Cullen Park or Mullingar, and slip back unnoticed three or four hours later.
He was just a die-hard. It would have given him massive satisfaction and joy on Sunday to see that victory. I'm sure his family were thinking of him.
Laois' win means so much to people, and when you get a victory like that, it certainly gives everyone involved a shot in the arm to keep driving the sport on in the county.
Even if they lose to Tipp next weekend, the scenes on the field at full-time on Sunday will live long in the memory.
Everyone in hurling would love to see Laois build on this. We've all seen what's happened to Offaly - hurling needs more strong teams.
But it's got to be built on solid foundations. You've got to get the schools, clubs and underage structures in order. That's got to be the model.
I think the GAA have got to step in and provide some of that financial support and some of that funding and pay for those coaches. If the foundations are solid, you'll always have a chance.
There are people that love the game there. But there are obstacles, and they need every support they can get to overcome some of those obstacles.
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As for the result itself, nobody saw this coming.
The general consensus in the build-up was that there was too short a turnaround, they couldn't recover in a week following the Joe McDonagh Cup final.
But in hindsight, perhaps having no break benefited them. There was no time for doubts to creep into their minds.
Eddie Brennan spoke about it after the game - they enjoyed themselves on the Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, they had a recovery session, and had a very positive training on Wednesday night. It was the players driving it, it was the players leading it. When you have that, you always have a chance.
Portlaoise isn't an easy place to go. I remember being there in 2013 when Galway were steeped in luck to get out of there alive.
Laois are now in bonus territory. It's another day in Croke Park. They have absolutely nothing to lose. Whatever way they look at it now, it's been a remarkable season.
Realistically, Tipp are operating at a different level, and they're coming into the game in a different space than where Dublin were. They're feeling stung after the Munster final.
You'd expect Tipp to win, and win comfortably. But Laois will feel they have pace up front, and that can trouble the Tipp backs.
Where now for Dublin?
Dublin have to be devastated. It's not to take anything away from Laois, that would be wrong. But Dublin allowed themselves to think ahead. There's no doubt about it - they were believing what they were reading.
They thought it was just a matter of going down, getting the job done, coming away and getting ready for Tipp. When that seeps into your psyche and that's your mentality, suddenly the opposition are hungrier and that physicality, aggression and intensity. They won't give you a second's peace on the ball.
Dublin were level with 15 minutes left. And still weren't able to close it out from there. Eoghan O'Donnell and Liam Rushe were huge losses, and Cian O'Callaghan was a guy they could have done with. But still you would have imagined that Dublin would have had enough to see it home after pulling it level with 15 minutes to go. The reality is that they couldn't, and it's a massive setback after all the positives of getting the win over Galway, getting a draw from nowhere against Wexford.
That's all been undone now.
Mattie Kenny is likely mad with himself and mad with his players that they didn't see the warning signs during the week.
They've paid a dear, dear price.
Part of it is legacy as well. Regardless of how poor the likes of Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary are, when lesser teams are playing them, there are doubts in the back of the mind. 'Can we really beat Kilkenny?'
The Laois players simply didn't have those doubts.
They didn't have had the same fear that Westmeath would have had against Cork.
They genuinely believed that they could win at the weekend. Eddie did a great job of convincing them about that.
Sky Sports' live GAA coverage continues next weekend, with Roscommon vs Tyrone and Donegal vs Meath in the Super 8s.