Laois manager John Sugrue (left) chats with his backroom team. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Laois manager John Sugrue felt that his team was never truly in danger despite Leitrim’s barnstorming finish that saw them grab three goals in a six minute spell last Sunday in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.
The Laois manager termed it a “hairy last quarter” but felt his team were well clear of Leitrim - “It was a hairy last quarter, but to be honest with you I thought we were out of sight to a great degree, it was just a lack of composure really, and a lack of finishing up top.
“In the first half we probably shot an awful lot on-sight, or maybe too quick, and then in the second half we, maybe, reined back on that a small but, and we were complicating things a bit too much and that lead them to get their break-out play patterns going.
“That's what they feed off, is break-out patterns of play and then they all tend to make a charge, and it's very difficult to stop a charge when they get going, but look we got our two points, and we're done.”
The Laois manager wasn’t dismissive of the Green & Gold but felt Leitrim’s comeback was due to the midlanders own errors - “To be fair to Leitrim, they played with a good bit of gusto there in the second half and they drove at us when we gave them the ball, and I would say we gave them the ball an awful lot of the time.
“But they really drove at us, and you have to give them great credit for that. Our guys maybe felt we were over the line, and that little bit of softness comes in, and we can't really afford that, we've got to compete for the seventy, physically, as well as mentally.
“But physically just chase down those balls towards the end of the game and really be hungry to finish out, because we're still learning to win games.”
It was put to the Laois boss that maybe the introduction of a full set of subs precipitated Leitrim’s fightback - “We decided to run in a few subs, and to be fair to the boys they all really deserved to play, some of the boys were probably unlucky not to start today but you throw them in.
“It probably leads to a small lack of unity there, to some degree, but saying that I still think if we executed better in our inside forward line, we wouldn't have had as many issues as we had in the finish.”
Yet the Kerry native, who saw his team record a second win in two outings and now faces Waterford at home next Saturday, didn’t feel his team’s five point halftime lead was reflective of how much they had dominated the action - “We went in five points up at half time and I don't think it was a fair reflection of where the game was in the first half.
“I felt at the same time we were forcing it a small bit, we were forcing the ball through the eye of a needle, passing-wise, and there was no mad need for it, we were comfortable.
“Saying that, you only get what you put over the bar, they won't give you anything for near misses or nearly scores, and we need to finish, and we need to learn how to finish well.
“Finishing well is not necessarily swinging the ball over your shoulder from thirty yards out near the sideline in the start of February in Carrick-on-Shannon.
“Two facets of play we'd have to look at are, number one, popping a pass more in the first half, and in the second, popping a pass less. We're trying to highlight stuff to the lads and to be fair to the lads they go after it, but maybe we went a step too far in that second half after what we had highlighted to them.”
Finally, Sugrue was full of praise for his keeper Graham Brody despite the part he played in conceding Leitrim’s first goal - “Brody saved the penalty, it was a very good save in fairness to him.
“People are going to start asking questions about Brody after their goal, but it was a lack of execution up front that lead to that. He had perfectly placed the ball inside, and then we forced a pass that's not necessary. To my mind, his execution this evening was brilliant.”