Laois minor football boss Donncha Phelan has just about drawn his breath following his side’s remarkable comeback victory over Westmeath on Wednesday night.
Laois trailed by 1-8 to 0-4 at half time in O’Moore Park in a game that they really had to win if they were to have any chance of advancing to the knock-out stages of the championship.
And things got even worse on the resumption of play when Ben McGauran kicked Westmeath eight points clear.
However, this young Laois team are made of stern stuff and they simply refused to give up.
Instead, goals from PJ Ward, Oisin Hooney and Brian Whelan helped them go into the lead for the very first time with 54 minutes on the clock – and this was a one point advantage they would hold onto through the remainder of normal time and the six minutes of injury time that followed.
Speaking afterwards, manager Phelan explained how his side took inspiration to a young Laois man who is going through a fight of us own away from the playing field.
Dillon Payne, a talented footballer who represented Laois on development squads, is currently undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is battling the illness bravely.
Manager Phelan said: “A lot of the lads on the panel are very close to Dillon and they see how hard he is battling in his fight.
“So what we did out there in the second half, we certainly drew inspiration from what Dillon is doing.
“To comeback from a set back in any walk of life is not the easy thing to do. It is difficult and it requires heart and determination – something that this group of players have in spades.
“We wish Dillon all the best as he continues on his fight back to full health and would encourage those who can to donate to his charity on Facebook – #TeamofDillon.”
The minors are out next against Longford in Pearse Park on Saturday May 18 at 7pm.
If they can avoid defeat in that game, they will top Group 1 and secure a place in the semi finals of the competition for the second year running.