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Phelan delighted to get his chance again after missing most of Joe McDonagh Cup win

Joe Phelan

The Laois hurlers claimed the Joe McDonagh Cup in Croke Park two weeks ago when they defeated Westmeath.

It was a joyous day for all involved but one player who probably didn’t enjoy it as much as the rest was defender Joe Phelan.

The vice-captain had started every game this year but lost his place on the starting team to Clough-Ballacolla’s Lee Cleere for the final.

The Camross man did come on at the end of the game however, a broken thumb sustained by Donnacha Hartnett since, saw Phelan restored to the starting team for the win over Dublin at the weekend.

And by God did he take his chance.

Phelan said: “I wasn’t hurling well over the last month, a bit off the boil and I paid the price.

“We have a competitive panel, unreal panel. Donny (Donnacha Hartnett) got unlucky, he is out for a few weeks with the thumb and just lucky for me that I got back in there.

“I knew I had to play well some time and thankfully I played alright and everything went alright, there was no goals anyway so bring on Tipp.”

Looking back on the win over Dublin, Phelan revealed he drew inspiration from an article written by former Laois manager and player Niall Rigney about a number of near misses the hurlers had over the years.

He said: “I was reading an article on Niall Rigney during the week, how close they came, how close over the years, and we just felt this team’s a bit different, the hurlers we have, the panel we have is unbelievable, and we believed completely we could do it.

“You know a lot of times, teams in that position, five points up at half time, you know Dublin came back at the start of the second half and we just got another run. We never gave up, we got a couple of points, three points to bring it out again.

“And it was just shock from then on, just drag them down whatever we have to do, and we just got over the line, that final whistle took forever.”

Joe also spoke to Off The Ball which you can check out below:

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