Friday 19 January 2018

Lillis wants O'Moore men to aim for Dubs benchmark

Mick Lillis
Mick Lillis

Incoming Laois football manager Mick Lillis won't be playing the poor mouth next year - even if he ends up in summer combat with All-Ireland champions Dublin.

Laois would previously have been viewed as one of the few Leinster pretenders capable of giving Dublin a run for their money - perhaps not any more, especially as Lillis now inherits a team that surrendered an eight-point lead at home to Antrim when crashing out of the qualifiers.

The Clare native reckoned "a little bit of apathy" may have contributed to that Antrim implosion, following a two-game battle with Kildare.

"I would always be of the belief that there is talent in Laois, and we'd hope to harness that and get the best out of it," explained Lillis, who will have the backing of the Laois executive when going forward for county board ratification next week.

As for the ultimate benchmark, he admitted: "Dublin are fantastic for a number of reasons. They have unbelievable pace in their team and, outside of being excellent footballers, they are fantastic athletes. And that gives them a huge advantage.

"Now, there's not much point in me or Mick O'Dowd or Turlough O'Brien or whoever it is managing in Leinster saying 'We can't beat Dublin.' You have to aspire to beating Dublin, or at least close the gap. That's the nature of sport - you strive to match the best, and Dublin are the best. But it's a big ask."

The former Portlaoise boss concluded: "It always has been an ambition of mine to manage at county level, and I made a few attempts at it previously and wasn't successful. To be honest, I thought it had passed me by at this stage."

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