Tomás Ó Flatharta: We must set our sights as high as possible
IN spite of what many believe to be a foregone conclusion, Tomás Ó Flatharta maintains he is "really optimistic" about what his Laois team can achieve this summer ahead of the beginning of the Leinster SFC, despite Dublin's overbearing presence in the competition.
Ó Flatharta's team go to Dr Cullen park on Saturday evening to face Carlow in what will be the first match of this summer's Leinster Championship, with Dublin as tight as 1/10 with some bookies to win a ninth provincial crown in 10 years.
Laois gave Dublin one of their more competitive matches of last summer in the Leinster quarter-final in Croke Park, though Jim Gavin's men finished with a late barrage to run out 11-point winners.
"If you look at it for the last 30 years, Dublin have been a very strong force in Leinster and they are always going to be with all the work and development that they have done at underage. And there's a lot of credit due to them for that work," Ó Flatharta outlined.
"Obviously when we start off every year everybody has ambitions and you're really optimistic about what you can achieve.
"Dublin are very good, but you just take it step by step. We'll take Carlow first, and I don't want to speculate on what might happen after that."
In reference to the 2014 defeat to Dublin, Ó Flatharta said: "People were saying we did very well because they probably didn't expect us to do that.
"I thought we could have done better in the game but this is a new year, and we're starting off again. Everybody is very optimistic and have a lot of ambitions starting off every year.
"Coming into the championship is a great time and there's a great buzz at this time of the year when you're looking forward to your first championship game."
Former AFL recruit Conor Meredith is back on board the Laois squad and set to start on Saturday having sat out a mixed Division 2 League campaign, having opted out in favour of completing his studies.
According to Ó Flatharta, his repatriation was preordained.
"At the beginning of the year, myself and Conor sat down and had a long discussion. His main priority this year was his degree and making sure he got that," his manager outlined.
Of Carlow, Ó Flatharta insisted: "Obviously they'll be delighted to have a home venue. They've had some good results in the League and it's a local derby."