Graigucullen boss, Kevin Doogue
Graiguecullen appointed Kevin Doogue as their Senior manager in 2018 and he has pushed the club further forward, with a Senior football final now on the horizon for the Carlow border men.
“It was 2011 the last time we were in it and 1982 before that. In 2011, it was bit different because we hadn’t been there for so long, but a lot of these lads are still knocking around the place, so it shouldn’t be as daunting this time.
“Us and Portarlington are in unfamiliar territory now, they haven’t been here since 2001.
Usually when it comes to championship, you’re playing Portlaoise in the final. This time it should be a little bit different. We should be very relaxed going into it.“
Inter-county stalwart Mark Timmons has been pivotal for Doogue’s side at the back, and he showed that last Friday by marking Jack Owens out of the game as well as getting up the field to score a crucial first half goal.
“He’s probably the most professional footballer I’ve ever played with, he’s just top class. We’ve known each other all our lives, he’s two or three years older than me. Everyone thinks it comes from natural talent with him and it wasn’t.
“Mark was a goalkeeper underage. He developed himself. He’s so important. Jack Owens tried to dummy him twice in the first couple of minutes, and there was no hope of it.
“He just recycled the ball back and that was him talking to himself, like ‘I’m in bother here for the day with this lad.’ If we had two of Timmo, it would be great. One at full-back and one at midfield or centre-forward. We have two captains. He is one and Chris (Hurley) is the other.
“They’re different but similar in ways as well. Chris is more of a hard worker type, whereas Mark oozes class all over the place. It’s a good mix between one at 11 and one at 3.”
Graiguecullen are usually a very difficult team to break down at the back, but Emo managed to get in for three goals in the space of ten minutes the last say. Doogue believes that won’t happen again.
“We were thirty-one minutes on the clock when we gave away a sideline ball. That shouldn’t be happening. A player must look at the scoreboard and know at thirty-one minutes on the clock what he needs to do with the ball here.
You concede goals like that, it’s not good anyway. It’s a bad habit considering the most we conceded in the three championship games had been ten points.
“I felt we were better than a four-point winning team on the day, but the goals kept them in the mix.”
It’s Portarlington in the final now for Graiguecullen after they cruised past Ballyfin in the other semi-final and Doogue recognises the challenge that lies ahead against a very strong outfit.
“They probably have an inter-county player in every position of the pitch at some level between U-15, Minor, U-20 and Senior.
“They have pace everywhere, they have youth everywhere, and they’ve plenty of lads with experience with ‘Squirty’ (David Murphy) at centre-forward. Paddy O’Sullivan is still to come back in for them after missing the other day.
"At times against Ballyfin they set up defensively enough, which I was surprised at because they’re usually an all-out attack team. I think they had two more gears in them the last day.
“ They did what they had to do, and I wouldn’t be looking too much at that game. Ballyfin were ok until they got to the opposition 45’ and things broke down too easily for them then. They (Portarlington) deserve the favourite tag for this year’s Championship.”
The game throws in at 2pm today (Sunday) in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise and will be available on Laois GAA TV.
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