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Begley to return for quarter-final as Ó Flatharta remains coy over Dublin clash

AFTERWARDS, Tomás Ó Flatharta confirmed that Colm Begley would be available for selection in three weeks time when Laois take up football’s most gruesome task and engage Dublin in Croke Park in the Leinster SFC quarter-final.

Indeed the Laois manager said was empathetic to Begley’s plight, despite dropping him from the squad for yesterday’s win over Wicklow for playing for Parnell’s last week in the Dublin SFC.

Begley started as Parnell’s went out in the first round to Lucan Sarsfields.

“Myself and Colm had a discussion during the week about it,” Ó Flatharta explained.

“He understood where we were coming from. I fully understood the awkward situation that he was in. He plays his club football with Parnell’s in Dublin but he’s also a coach there so he found himself in a very awkward situation.

“But look, it’s gone now, he’s still a very vital part of our panel and he’s going to be fully involved from now on. We’re back training on Tuesday night so we

welcome everyone back.”

Begley was in Aughrim yesterday and even sat amongst the extended Laois squad but didn’t tog, his place in the Laois half-back line going to debutant Robbie Kehoe.

Yet his manager was keen to clarify that there had been no rancour over the issue and no festering resentment.

“Absolutely not,” he stated. “We’re heading for Croke Park now in what, two weeks’ time and it’s all systems go. What has happened, it’s the end of that and we just move on.”

unbackable

Of Laois’s next step, the booby prize of taking arms against the unbackable favourites for the All-Ireland, Ó Flatharta was predictably coy.

Yesterday, his team warmed to their task and found a belated rhythm and when they did, they looked a well-groomed, assured team.

If they take that to Croke Park, they should do better than most.

“It’s always better when you have played a game in the Championship. You get the feel of it,” he admitted. “You saw in the first-half there that we weren’t hectic, but I felt that when we settled a bit, you know, that should help us going

forward.”

Ó Flatharta, of course, has plenty of recent previous against Dublin. He was, famously, part of Paidí Ó Sé’s management team in the great Leinster coup of 2004.

More recently, he constructed a flinty Westmeath team of his own in 2008, one that got within two points of Pillar Caffrey’s team in the 2008 Leinster semi-final, though arguably his darkest day with the Midlanders came at Dublin’s hands too; a 4-26 to 0-11 hiding the following year.

“Well I suppose first of all they’re delighted that they got over the line

today,” he replied when requested to gauge the mood of his dressing room about the prospect of playing Dublin. “I thought they showed a lot of character.

“They’ll just have to prepare from now on for the next few weeks and we’re looking forward to it.”

More in the tank?

“Yeah, that’s what I just told them - there’s an awful lot of football to be played by these lads this summer.”

brass tacks

Brass tacks time.

Does he believe this team can beat the Dubs?

“Eh well, I suppose looking at Dublin, sure look, what can I say about them?

“They’re the All-Ireland champions, the league champions and every team they come across they do very well with them.

“We’re up against them in two weeks’ time and our job is to prepare as best as we can so that we can perform to the best of our ability in two weeks’ time.”

For his part, Harry Murphy mused: “Who doesn’t want to play the Dubs in Croke Park?”

“It might not be a full house but that’s where gaelic footballers want to play. Better getting beaten in Croke Park in front of 40,000 people rather than getting beaten here in front of 3 or 4,000.”

Fair point.

cmckeon@independent.ie


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