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Saturday 10 December 2016

Laois Lion Cuddy praises Dublin

Dubs are on the right track ahead of duel with LImerick

A BUSY Saturday for David Cuddy.First there was a trip to O'Toole Park with the Laois camogie team.

David is the manager of the O'Moore County's Premier Junior side. They beat Dublin.

And as the former inter-county hurler travelled back down the N7, the Castletown Colt wondered could it be a Laois small-ball double over the Dubs.

His ears were well tuned into the Great Debate - Liam Rushe installed at centre half-back and Conal Keaney moved to the front of the bus.

David was taking it all in. But his focus was more on what flavour the 'Cheddar' would produce.

There was an uplifting melody around O'Moore Park.

Everybody was on the march with Cheddar's Army.

But, very quickly, the music on Midlands 103FM took on a more sombre tone.

COPE

The hosts weren't able to cope with The Schutte Shuffle. Mark was pulling stars from the clouds and shattering the stained glass windows.

He's having a tremendous campaign. Cuala's Cú Chulainn.

"Those two early goals were real sucker punches. We were chasing the game after that," reflected David.

Just seven minutes on the clock and the Dubs ahead by 2-2 to a point.

Mark cracked in two goals himself, combining awareness, strength and stealth.

In a tricky assignment away from home, Ger Cunningham's prayers for a sharp start had been answered.

David was impressed with Dublin's focus.

Laois began to reduce the deficit. "They played some nice hurling," acknowledged David.

Yet Dublin's third goal proved another serious reverse. A goal made by Schutte's agility and vision and drilled to the target by Conal Keaney like a contestant on Bob Monkhouse's 'The Golden Shot'.

"From a Laois point of view, it was disappointing to concede the three first half goals because, prior to the Galway match, we had been doing very well defensively," noted David.

"It was tough for Laois trying to recover from the two early goals in particular, but, in fairness, they made a real fight of it.

"You had to admire their character. They gave it everything to mount a comeback.

"But what they needed was a goal to get the crowd going. And if they had managed a goal, it could have made all the difference.

"There was a big Laois support there, and a goal would have certainly lifted the place.

"But, unfortunately, it didn't materialise, and Dublin ran out handy winners in the end.

""They took their goal chances. That was vital."

'Dotsy' O'Callaghan's fourth goal put the Dulux on it. Dublin won by ten points at the finish - 4-17 to 0-19. "Dublin are a step ahead of Laois at this level. They are a more seasoned outfit."

And now another step on the All-Ireland Qualifier mountain for the Dubs.

Dublin will be hoping for another positive performance against Limerick.

Plenty to chat about over a toasted cheese sandwich at Ned Rea's.

David feels the Blues have every chance.

He has seen the experience they have in the satchel - A National League title, a Leinster Championship, and coming within a lick of varnish of making the All-Ireland final.

And reaching this year's Division 1 League semi-final.

Dalo's Days in the sun will rumble for a very long time.

But like the growth in Laois, it's the seed in the ground and the watering can that have seen the flowers bloom.

"Our fellas will only benefit from a game like Saturday. It's a learning experience."

David played for Laois for 15 years. He compiled a harvest of scores. He had many a good tussle against the Dubs.

He recalls the duels with fondness.

He came up against teams managed by men like Jimmy Gray, Michael O'Grady, Marty Morris, Humphrey Kelleher and Tommy Naughton.

And he played against some celebrated Blues - some who are still playing - the likes of Gary Maguire, Michael Carton and Johnny McCaffrey.

Laois have battled bravely themselves. Their last Leinster title came in 1949.

They saw at close-hand the rise of Offaly in the electric eighties.

Down around Portlaoise, they'll long remember the emotional victory over Offaly this summer.

Their first Leinster Championship success over the Faithful since 1972.

As the great Bill McLaren would have said: "They'll be dancing on the streets of Timahoe tonight".

"In all my years playing for Laois, I never got the opportunity to savour a day like that.

"It was a tremendous win, but it wasn't a shock.

HARD

"People have been working hard on the hurling.

"Much effort has gone into the under-age development. And the future looks good.

"We have a nice team there now. There's talent in the county, and Cheddar is doing a top job.

"Hurling is on the up, and to finally beat Offaly after all the years has given everybody in Laois such a boost."

The man in the woolly hat has inspired the revolution. And the young generation have their heroes to follow - men like Zane Keenan, Willie Hyland and Cha Dwyer.

In quiet moments, David sometimes opens the pages of his own career.

"It's only when you sit back and think about it that you realise what marvellous times we had. They were great old days all the same."

And now David is fully embracing the great new days to come.

For Laois....and the Dubs.

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