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'It's a fitting tribute to his Dad that he came out and finished the game for us today'

Laois manager John Sugrue heaped praise on young forward Evan O’Carroll who played a key role despite losing his father during the week.

Updated at 12:16

LAOIS MANAGER JOHN Sugrue praised the resilience of young forward Evan O’Carroll after he made a significant contribution in their Leinster SFC semi-final win over Carlow despite suffering a personal tragedy last week.

Evan O'Carroll celebrates after being awarded a fre Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

O’Carroll buried his father Michael days earlier and it was unclear in the lead-up to the game whether he would tog out at all.

But the UCD student took his place among the substitutes and replaced Ross Munnelly in the 53rd minute with Laois leading by 0-7 to 0-6.

O’Carroll won a number of important frees as the O’Moore County extended their lead and then kicked the final point of the game deep into stoppage-time to seal their first provincial final appearance since 2007.

He had a warm embrace with his mother after the final whistle as Laois celebrated their progression to the Leinster decider in two weeks’ time where they’ll take on reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin.

“A tough day for Evan but that fella has been standing up inside in the dressing room all year and doing a job for us,” said Sugrue.

“He’s had an injury or two and it has set him back but please God he’ll be challenging hard now for a place in the Leinster final.

StockSean O'Siochru Laois boss John Sugrue Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“It’s a great sign of the man, it’s a great sign of the steel inside in a fella. And I think it’s a fitting tribute to his Dad that he came out and finished the game for us today.”

Sugrue also expressed concern for defender Stephen Attride, who was stretchered off the field in the closing stages after a lengthy delay. The Laois captain was involved in a heavy collision and it emerged today he will miss the rest of the season with a double skull fracture.

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“He wasn’t that great when the medics went in to him but I think he was coming to as he left the field,” Sugrue said about Attride shortly after the game, before they knew the full extent of his injuries.

“Please God Stephen will make a good recovery from this.

“Stephen is a very brave fella and he’s shown that a couple of times during the year. He came out for one or two balls low and hard where other fellas wouldn’t put their bodies necessarily.

Stephen Attride goes off injured Stephen Attride goes off injured Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“It’s a sign of the man’s bravery and unfortunately it cost him finishing the game but he made a massive contribution to the game.”

Dublin will represent a significant step-up in quality for Laois in the final at Croke Park in two weeks’ time, but Sugrue says it’s not a daunting task for his players.

“It’s not hard to look forward at all. We’ve got another game in Leinster, we wanted to stay in Leinster as long as we could.

“We’ll just go as hard as we can at it. That’s the scenario we’re faced with. We’re going to try and play our football as best we can.”

Laois are within striking distance of the Super 8s and even if they lose to Dublin as expected, winning their next game in the qualifiers would seal a place in the Super 8s.

Promotion to Division 3, a Division 4 title, a Leinster final appearance and making the Super 8s would represent remarkable progress for the O’Moore County in Sugrue’s debut season in charge.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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