John Sugrue hopes Laois can close the gap
By Michael Devlin
John Sugrue believes his Laois side have “raised one or two eyebrows” following their first half performance against Dublin in the Leinster Final.
Laois went in at the break six points down, having weathered a barrage of goal chances in the opening minutes, with Ciaran Kilkenny finding the net for the All-Ireland champions.
Points from Donie Kingston and Alan Farrell helped steady the ship thereafter, and though the Dubs ran away with the game in the second half, Sugrue was positive about how his side didn’t let Dublin get completely out of sight by the halfway point.
“Yeah, it was two very different halves," Sugrue reflected. "We competed to some degree in the first-half for sure. Now they had their chances, we had our chances, probably both teams didn't convert to a great degree.
“But yeah, competitive first-half, (in the) second-half they were athletically superior to a great degree. They ran hard and they ran very clear lines and they found their spaces in the second-half.
“I thought we defended reasonably well at the back with regard to the shutting out them goal chances. They happened but we shut them out.
“We got back into the game, we missed a few, they missed a few. They might have missed one or two more chances than we did in the first-half but at the same time we certainly missed one or two chances as well.”
The quality of the Dublin bench was made clear in the second half, with Cormac Costello coming on to score four points, while Jim Gavin was also able to introduce former Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey as his side kicked on. Sugrue believes it is up to his Laois team to make the improvements to be able to match that depth of talent in the future.
“Yeah, they have real quality," Sugrue admitted. "Now, I'd still consider that we've got quality on the bench, but Dublin, to be fair, and the scenario at present is that they're the standard bearers in the country, we've measured ourselves against them and we've come up short.
“We've obviously got work to do to close the gap, and it's a significant amount of work to do, but I'd like to think we might have raised one or two eyebrows during that first period as regard to what competition we could bring to the game.”