Seamus Plunkett could return to the Laois job. Morgan Treacy/INPHO
holding out hope

'There's always a chance' - Interim boss says Cheddar could return to Laois hurling job

Stand-in manager Ger Cunningham isn’t ruling out a return for Seamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett.

SEAMUS ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett could return to the role of Laois senior hurling team manager.

That’s the view of current interim boss Ger Cunningham, who stepped into the breach following Plunkett’s shock resignation yesterday.

Speaking exclusively to The42 this afternoon, Cunningham said: “There’s always a chance because Laois hurling needs Seamus Plunkett.

“Obviously it’s my ambition that he takes over the team again, as soon as possible.

“I don’t know if that will happen as Cheddar has requested time and we have to give him that.”

Behind the scenes, it is understood that moves are afoot in an attempt to get Plunkett back on board before the Leinster SHC quarter-final clash with neighbours Offaly on Sunday week.

He resigned after it emerged that Borris-Kilcotton duo Matthew Whelan and Jim Fitzpatrick played in a club game on Monday evening.

Cunningham, who oversaw last night’s training session and a team meeting afterwards, confirmed that former captain Whelan and Fitzpatrick are no longer members of the Laois senior hurling panel as a result of their actions.

Matthew Whelan leads out his team Matthew Whelan has been dropped from the Laois senior hurling squad. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

As things stand, Cunningham will take charge of the O’Moore men for the Offaly game but he is still hopeful of a return for Plunkett.

“He has asked for time and I have told him that he will get as much time he wants.

“The county board has agreed to give him time also and if that takes two days, five days or two weeks, only Cheddar can answer that and the county board is of the same mindset.

“The message is that Cheddar is a loss to Laois hurling but as he would say himself, Laois hurling has to go forward.

“Cheddar, Ger Cunningham or nobody else is any bigger than Laois and we have to prepare the team for Sunday week. That’s the only remit that I have there at the moment.”

Ger Cunningham and Patsy Morrissey 17/3/2004 Laois interim boss Ger Cunningham guided Cork's Newtownshandrum to All-Ireland club glory in 2004. INPHO INPHO

Cunningham admitted that losing Plunkett to the set-up is “very tough” as the pair forged a close working relationship in the two and a half years that they have been working together.

“I’ve been with him from day one,” Cunningham said.

“I know the work that Cheddar has put into this with the clubs.

“That’s the hardest part for him to come to terms with.

“It’s not an individual thing with the players, it’s nothing like that.

“The issue at hand is the work put in over two and a half years to get a proper structure in place where players can go and represent their county without being under serious pressure from their clubs. They’re the structures that were put in place.

“It’s very tough for me as I’m a coach as I want to be on the field with the players.

Ger Cunningham 25/6/2005 Ger Cunningham coached the Limerick hurlers when Joe McKenna was manager. INPHO INPHO

“When Laois hurling comes under the request of Cheddar and you’re asked to step into a position, you can only accept it and I’m doing this both for Laois hurling and the players.

“I owe them at this stage. I was so happy for two and a half years working alongside Cheddar and it’s a huge blow to see something like this but I haven’t given up hope either.”

Limerick native Cunningham guided Cork outfit Newtownshandrum to All-Ireland senior club glory in 2004 before leading Thurles Sarsfields to a Tipperary SHC crown a year later, their first since 1974.

And Cunningham, manager of University of Limerick’s Activity Centre and All Weather Pitches, is a 2011 Fitzgibbon Cup winning manager with UL.

He was also coach to the Limerick senior hurlers in 2005 and 2006, when Joe McKenna was manager of the Shannonsiders.

Originally published at 14.27

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