Brought to you in association with Hanlon Woodcraft
Laois senior hurling manager Eamonn Kelly was thrilled after watching his side run out comprehensive 15-point winners over Meath on Sunday.
The Royals came into the game on the crest of a wave having turned over Kerry last week and they raced into an early lead in this one.
But Laois settled in the game and, aided by trojan midfield displays by Ross King and Paddy Purcell, romped to victory.
Speaking afterwards, manager Kelly revealed that his team were apprehensive about facing Meath because of the good run they had been on.
He said: “We put up a good score. We were very apprehensive coming up here because Meath have had an unbelievable 12 months.
“In league and championship both this year and last they have been very good so we knew that we were going to have to be at our very best or we were going to be turned over.
“They turned over Kerry easily enough last week so we are delighted to get across the line and put four points on the board.
“We were two points down but the lads responded well. We talked about that, whatever way it went, we had to focus on our performance for the whole game.
“There was some great individual performances for sure, but as a team, they worked very hard.”
Laois made three changes to the team which had been named to start as Matthew Whelan, Seán Downey and Neil Foyle replaced Ben Conroy, Aidan Corby and Cian Taylor.
And the boss confirmed he was thrilled with how each of them played – as well as giving a special mention to hat-trick hero Paddy Purcell.
He said: “Thankfully some of the lads are coming back from injury because we’ve never had a full panel to choose from.
“All the lads who came in did well and I was impressed again by Ciarán Collier. He did his cruciate last year and he did his own rehab.
“We were delighted to be able to bring in against Kerry and he had a fantastic game again today. He has a great attitude.
“Seán Downey is another lad with a fantastic attitude but they all do in fairness. I don’t like to talk about individuals but if there is one man who should be individualised today, it is Paddy Purcell.
“That is probably as good a midfield display as I have seen in a long time, if ever maybe. He scored three goals and a rake of points, it was phenomenal.
“I’m delighted for Paddy because he is another fella who works hard. We are working on trying to hit that line where the space is and Paddy understands that.”
The only blotch on an otherwise spotless copy book for Kelly’s charges was the loss of Cahir Healy early in the first half to what looks like a serious hamstring injury.
Kelly said: “Cahir is another guy who deserves great credit, coming over and back every week from London.
“But he reckons it could be the worst tear that he has gotten so he could be out for a while. He probably won’t make the Kerry game but look we will have to re-assess that one.”
This win puts Laois in the driving seat for qualification from the group, so much so that even a defeat to Kerry in the last game would probably still see the O’Moore county advance on score difference.
But Kelly is taking nothing for granted and he says his side are determined to win again in two weeks’ time.
He said: “We have to win because there is nothing guaranteed and we are not through yet.
“We know we have to go down there and win to be sure.
“There was three quarters of the game where we hurled well today so it is coming along but we have more to do.”