John Sugrue - taming the 'monster'
By John Harrington
By any metric, Laois football manager John Sugrue has done a great job thus far in his first season in charge of the Midlanders.
They had been in free-fall before his arrival with successive relegations in the League and early exits from the Championship in ’16 and ‘17, but the Kerry native has them on the up and up again.
They’ve won 10 matches from 10 in League and Championship and reached their first Leinster SFC Final in 11 years.
Sugrue looks like he’s taken to this inter-county management lark like a duck to water, but he admits there have been aspects of the demanding role that have taken him by surprise.
“Yeah, my own phone! I think that's taken me by surprise,” said Sugrue. “It's a torment and a torture and if you want to take it away with you then you're more than welcome to it!
“It's phenomenal. It's a monster. And I've got great fellas helping out. Brian Breen, our logistics guy, is fantastic.
“Eoin Kearns does a lot of work with regard to video and stuff like that. We've got some great, great guys, Jerome (Stack) takes the coaching.
“It's just a monster, though. There's no two ways about it. The monster is trying to co-ordinate between players and the management team and then trying to co-ordinate between county board.
“It's a monster time-wise.”
Laois have come a long way in a short period of time under Sugrue, but they now face the ultimate test in the shape of three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Dublin on Sunday.
Sugrue knows nothing less than the complete team performance – something which he believes still eludes them – will be good enough against the standard-bearers of Gaelic Football.
“We've ticked lots of boxes to a great degree with regards to progressing the team from where we started out the year,” said Sugrue.
“I still don't think we've got our team performance to a great degree. We're searching for one of those and it's one of those things that I think in any given year a team needs to come with their team performance and it's a thing that we'll be really focusing on from now to the end of our run. Can we get our team performance?
“The next day is big, obviously. It's a Leinster Final, we've played a Leinster semi-final and earned our right to be there. Look, we've got to up the ante.
“Every day you go out in a Championship you've got to up the ante. That's the same for everybody. I'm sure Dublin will up the ante from the semi-final and we'll try to up the ante from the semi-final and see how we match up at the end of the day.”