Laois senior football team manager Mick Lillis believes that former Galway hurling boss Anthony Cunningham will bring a “freshness” to the O’Moore County set-up following his appointment as coach.
Cunningham was controversially ousted by player power in Galway last year but is back on the inter-county scene with the Laois footballers for the forthcoming championship campaign.
Lillis revealed that Cunningham was present for a recent training camp at Breaffy House in Mayo and it was confirmed over the weekend that he is now on board as Laois prepare for their Leinster SFC first-round clash at home to Wicklow on Saturday week, 14 May.
Lillis explained: “He was with us on a training camp a few weeks ago in Breaffy House and after that, it went from there.
"He brings a freshness to the whole thing, which is what we wanted. He’s well-motivated, he’s a good guy and has great experience"
“That was the first time I met him. I would have known him from a distance and by reputation but wouldn’t have had any contact previously. He wouldn’t have known me either.”
While Cunningham is best known for his managerial stint in Galway, who he led to All-Ireland senior hurling finals in 2012 and last year, he has also enjoyed considerable success in club football management with Roscommon outfit St Brigid’s and Westmeath’s Garrycastle.
The Peterswell native led both clubs to multiple county titles and provincial success.
Cunningham linked up with the Laois players on their home soil for the first time on Saturday evening and Lillis said: “He was excellent with us. He brings a freshness to the whole thing, which is what we wanted. He’s well-motivated, he’s a good guy and has great experience.”
Laois suffered relegation to Division 3 of the Allianz Football League this year but victory over Wicklow would set up a Leinster quarter-final against provincial and All-Ireland champions Dublin at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny.
Lillis admitted that a number of his players are currently nursing injuries but is hopeful that he will have a full hand to choose from for the Wicklow clash.
He said: “We’re trying to get fellas back on the road, a lot of injuries, but things are coming on. Like everybody else, we’re preparing away nice and quietly in the background. Hopefully things will be alright for us.
“We have four or five lads injured still. They’re making progress and we’re hoping everybody will be ready.
“It’s knee and ankle injuries more than anything else, knocks rather than soft tissue.”