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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

6 pre-championship views of Laois manager Justin McNulty

We talked to the former Armagh player about his progress as a manager, last year’s loss to Longford and putting sport into perspective.

Laois manager Justin McNulty.
Laois manager Justin McNulty.

1. On trying to progress with Laois

It certainly hasn’t been steady progress. There has been stormy waters along the way, there has been plain sailing for periods. That’s sport, it’s never smooth. You always have rapids to overcome.

When you work with a team, work with sports, it’s a rocky road. If you think anything else, then you are a fool.

2. On putting sport into perspective

Life’s difficult. People have challenges. That young guy Donal Walsh who passed away with cancer, those are real challenges. It’s sport. It’s not really a life-defining issue. Life goes on. If you can keep that perspective very much in the forefront of your mind then you can chart your way through stormy waters.

3. On recovering from last year’s loss to Longford

It’s a question of momentum. Carlow at home was vital. It was a local derby. It was a tough game to come out victors in and then the other games we just got teams at the right time.

The team were uncomfortable. There was so much unrest within the camp, guys were uneasy with the the huge disappointment of being beaten by Longford but they stayed tight. They kept their troubles in house. We always decided ‘guys we’re going to go forward together.

4. On defender Cahir Healy focusing on the county’s hurling squad

(INPHO/Ken Sutton)

Cahir is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, more so than any man you have ever met in your life. He’s incredible. He’s a warrior – his integrity shines through.

His first passion is hurling. It’s a simple matter. He was trying to juggle both and you guys know the level of commitment expected at inter-county level in hurling and football these days is phenomenal.

To try to and juggle both to try to perform at a level. Both codes were suffering and Cahir said ‘I have to go back to my first love.’ I respect him and admire him for making that decision. He’s the sort of player we’d love to have with us. The door is wide open for Cahir to come back any time.

5. On coming up against Louth led by former Armagh team-mate Aidan O’Rourke

Me and Aidan have been at war many times together in the trenches since we were at school. We’ve been playing together since we were 14, 15 and 16 years old. We know each other inside out.

Aidan is a meticulous planner, fantastic motivator, his attention to detail is phenomenal. Tactically astute. He’s ably assisted by Martin, his brother, who was instrumental in bringing St Paul’s to a McRory Cup final with John Raffery, a school that has no history of colleges football.

Mike McGurn is his strength and conditioning coach. These guys are all experienced at playing and performing and executing at the highest level.

Aidan has had a good apprenticeship working with Kieran in Kildare, James McCartan in Down. He knows inter-county football inside out.

6. On how their three former Armagh teammates – McGeeney, McNulty and O’Rourke – are managing in Leinster

It’s a freak of nature. There is no explanation. If you were to say to us 10 years ago that’s what we’d be doing and where we’d be, all of us would have said ‘you’re having us on, you’re pulling my leg.’ It’s extraordinary.

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TheScore Team

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