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Laois boss Sugrue following in the footsteps of Kerry giants Micko and Páidí

John Sugrue has guided Laois to Sunday’s Leinster football final.

JOHN SUGRUE IS the third Kerry native to lead his county to a Leinster SFC final since the turn of the century, but he readily admits he’s got a lot to achieve in the game before he can be compared to Mick O’Dwyer or Páidí Ó Sé.

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O’Dwyer won Leinster crowns with Kildare and Laois in the early 2000s, while Ó Sé guided Westmeath to provincial glory in 2004.

“There’s a bit of (tradition), yeah,” says Sugrue. “Look, I’m a novice to a great degree.

“Them other guys have done far more in the game in a grand sense than what I’ve done or what I may do. This is my cut off it and I’m going to do the best that I can do with it.”

Laois have steadily improved during Sugrue’s debut campaign in charge. They’re just one win away from the Super 8s and have already claimed the Division 4 title and promotion to the third tier.

Sugrue, who was a physio with Laois last year, admits the time demands of inter-county management have taken him by surprise.

“My own phone – I think that’s taken me by surprise! 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. 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.”

Ross Munnelly encourages his teammates Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Laois veteran Ross Munnelly is the only current panelist who lined out when O’Dwyer and Ó Sé met on the sideline in the 2004 Leinster final, which Ó Sé’s Westmeath won after a replay.

Sugrue heaped praise on the 35-year-old Munnelly for his attitude this season.

“Ross came in at the start of the year and we had a conversation about it. He doesn’t look for any favours and wasn’t going to get any either.

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“He’s been a standard bearer for a number of years now. He’s been energetic and positive this year. You’ve got to admire that about the guy. He likes football, and that’s what fellas who like football do. It’s great to see him and great to see him performing.”

Laois are 100/1 outsiders for the provincial final, but Sugrue says his side are focused on getting the performance levels right.

“It’s funny, Dublin don’t tend to write off anyone on their own bat. But everyone else to a great degree (write themselves off). Look, the facts are the facts of where the teams have been recently.

“Going on them alone, that’s where other people tend to derive their information from. We can’t change that, we’ve got to focus on ourselves and we have to focus on the team and our team performance.

“Like I said, try to get our performance of the year out of ourselves. If we do that and if we really go up there and compete and compete and stay competing, then we’ll see where we get to.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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