New Laois hurling manager Seamus Plunkett believes Laois have the talent to surprise in 2013, but that moulding a team performance is the key challenge that lies ahead for the county.
He told RTÉ: “I’m a Laois man obviously, and it’s a great challenge to take over your own county. And I just think that there’s great talent in the county.
“There’s a lot of young talent coming through and it’s a great chance to mould them into seniors.
“Certainly the people that are there, I just think there’s as much technical ability in these players as in any other county.
“I had the privilege a couple of years ago of coaching Tipperary and I had first-hand knowledge of players.
"And certainly looking at our own players in terms of technical ability, there as good as anyone. We just need to weld them all together into a team performance.
“I think if we can do that for 2013 and beyond, I think we can surprise some people.”
“There’s a lot of young talent coming through and it’s a great chance to mould them into seniors" - Seamus Plunkett
Plunkett and Paul Cuddy were originally entrusted by the Laois County Board as the men to find a new manager for the county, before the pair themselves took over the roles of manager and selector respectively, following a request from Laois County Board chairman Gerry Kavanagh.
Plunkett said: “I’d been over the minors for the last two years and last year we felt we’d done very, very well. And a couple of weeks back the county board had a criterium in place for the selection of a manager and they asked me to assist in that selection.
“Paul Cuddy my county colleague joined me in that. It’s fair to say that a lot of people didn’t match the criteria. A lot of people did match the criteria but for various reasons weren’t available to do the job.
“We sent in our report to the county board, and last Tuesday night was the AGM of the county board and there was a change of leadership.
“The following morning the new chairman [Kavanagh] rang me and asked me to consider the position. I did that and was happy after consideration to accept the job and I’m honoured to be managing my own county hurling team.”
Following relegation from the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B last term and heavy defeats to Dublin and Limerick in the 2012 Championship, morale is low in the O'Moore County, and Plunkett realises the extent of the task ahead.
“We just need to dust ourselves off and prepare ourselves for the year ahead" - Seamus Plunkett
Plunkett continued: “Morale does need to built up, there’s no doubt about that. But when we look at the underage structure and we look at all the work that’s being done at Setanta level up to minor and under-21 last year that there is definitely the basis for a senior to work on.
“We just need to dust ourselves off and prepare ourselves for the year ahead.”
“We’ve a small pool of players in comparison to the Kilkennys and Tipperarys of this world. But it would certainly be one of our aims to get all the players that are committed preparing properly for Laois. Get them all on board and prepare properly for the new year and we’ll see where that will take us.
“We’ve a number of tasks to do before we actually meet the players and we need to put a management team in place and we’re certainly looking for a committed and innovative management team.
“When we’ve that in place then we’ll meet the players and we’ll look in terms of when we’ll commence preparations for the new year at that stage.”