By Kieran Murphy
ÉIRE Óg manager Joe Murphy says he is not pre-occupied by the Saturday night throw-in for their Leinster club senior football semi-final tie against Portlaoise. Indeed, the team are used to playing at different times and on different days in the local championship.
“It is good exposure for our players and our club,” he says. “It is an exciting time. It is different from a Sunday. We just have to approach it in a different manner with our preparations. Coming into the game, whether it is a Saturday or a Sunday, we will have almost everything done by Tuesday night.”
In Teach Asca, no-one will ever forget that it was against Laois opposition, Ballyroan, they won their first Leinster senior club in a 1992 snow delayed final which went into the New Year.
“I can’t remember Eire Og and Portlaoise ever playing each other. Certainly they didn’t when I was playing football. I can’t remember previous to that and we certainly haven’t played them in the last 25 years. We don’t have a rivalry,” says Murphy.
They say you have to lose one to win one. Fair enough, but when you get hammered in a Leinster semi-final by 2-15 to 0-3 to the Longford champions and end up finishing the game with 12 players like Éire Óg did last year, there is something entirely different to absorb.
“Mullinalaghta last year was a painful lesson,” concedes Joe. “We are still progressing. There are young lads who are still maturing on the field. If you don’t bring a top-class performance at this level you will be blown out of the water. We are aware of that and painful as it was last year, it is something we haven’t forgotten,” concedes Murphy.
His side stared down disaster in the opening quarter in their previous game against the Kildare champions who built up a 0-6 to 0-2 lead.
“The most encouraging factor from the Sarsfields game was we dealt with it during play. We were under pressure in the first quarter and we adapted to it on the field. We pushed on well and when we got our noses back in front we didn’t relent and kept going to the final whistle. That is really encouraging and a sign of a team going in the right direction.”
The Éire Óg manager admits Portlaoise will be tougher again.
“They are a team full of top-class footballers and won’t want to lose against a Carlow team. That is a big incentive for them.”
Leinster Club Senior Football Championship semi-final
Portlaoise v Éire Óg
O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, Saturday, 7pm