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Laois football management to stay in roles after county board talks following Wicklow defeat

Billy Sheehan

Laois senior football manager Billy Sheehan and his backroom team are to remain in their positions following talks with county board officials in the aftermath of Sunday’s hugely disappointing 5-15 to 4-12 loss to Wicklow in the Leinster championship.

Sheehan and his management met with county board officials again on Monday evening on the back of similar lengthy discussions in Aughrim after the game.

It’s understood the management were willing to step aside if that was the wishes of the county board.

Laois’s loss to Wicklow – where they were 16 points down at one stage in the second half – comes just four weeks after the side were well beaten by Longford and relegated to Division 4 of the National League.

Sheehan cut a hugely despondent figure after Sunday’s game.

“I am not one to walk away from anything but I will talk to the County Board – PJ (Kelly), Niall (Handy) and Martin (Byrne) – and see what the County Board think is best for Laois football,” he said on Sunday.

“I will talk to the County Board because they put me in the job in the first place.

“If what’s best for Laois football is to continue bringing through the young lads then that is fair enough but I realise today is very disappointing for everyone.

“I can only apologise to the people who travelled up to the game. The performance didn’t deserve the commitment that they gave.

“It is a sad day for the Laois public and I can’t apologise enough to the supporters.

“People spent their money, travelled down and paid money to come in here. We didn’t do ourselves justice and that is more disappointing than anything.”

As he has done after all defeats this year, Sheehan was adamant that the blame for the defeat lay with him rather than the players.

Sheehan said: “People can say what they want about the players but they have put in everything and the buck stops with me.

“We did a lot of work on Wicklow and my job is to deliver it so when the performance is like that, then the team reflects the manager and I am the one who is over the team.

“People give out about the County Board but they couldn’t have been more helpful throughout the year.

“Backroom team, the players – I have had no issues but that performance was unacceptable for the county’s supporters and the players themselves.

“I can say that these boys have given whatever I have asked from day one but the issue is probably me.

“I know people think the easy option is me taking the hit but they are a great group of lads and they want to play for Laois.

“Any player who gives that effort, you have to back them 100%.

“The lads are very disappointed in the dressing room and I would hate for people to be saying anything about them or getting on top of them.”

The new championship structure in place this year means that Laois won’t play in the All Ireland Qualifiers and instead will go into the new second tier Tailteann Cup competition for the Division 3 and 4 teams that don’t reach a provincial final.

Among the other teams already confirmed to be in the Tailteann Cup are Offaly, Carlow, Antrim, New York and London. More will be added in the coming weeks as the provincial championships are played off.

The preliminary round (if there are 17 teams) is pencilled in for May 21/22 with Round 1 on May 28/29 and the quarter-finals on June 4/5.

The semi-finals are on June 19 and the final on July 9 as a curtain raiser to one of the All Ireland semi-finals.

The Laois panel are due to train this evening with the county players then available to play with their clubs in league games this week.

There is a full round of Division 2 games on Wednesday night while Division 1A is on Friday night and Division 1B on Saturday.

SEE ALSO – Season goes from bad to worse as Laois hit for five goals and dumped out of Leinster championship by Wicklow

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.