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McConville aims to help hurl Laois to surprise win

 

By John Campbell

Armagh 2002 All-Ireland winner Oisin McConville faces one of his biggest sporting challenges tomorrow - and there won't be an orange jersey in sight.

Instead, McConville will be part of Laois manager Eamonn Kelly's backroom team for the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final against Wexford at O'Moore Park, Portaloise where the Crossmaglen man will sample his first taste of the cut and thrust of the closing stages of the provincial series.

And if McConville is known for his forthright views, then Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald is an even more ebullient character who is invariably never far removed from controversy.

McConville, clearly relishing his role as a motivational guru with Laois, has already made a big impact with the side, but manager Kelly believes that a win over Wexford would be a "massive boost" for the midland county.

It was after he experienced the influence Kieran McGeeney wielded as a motivational driving force with the Tipperary hurlers that Kelly became convinced McConville could do a similar job for Laois.

"The lads have great time for him and, to be honest, he's a breath of fresh air," states Kelly.

"He would see a lot of similarities in where Laois are at the minute with where he was when he started off his career with Crossmaglen and Armagh.

"They were teams which were in transition and that's what the lads like about him, they see a lot of similarities too. We feel he has a big role to play with us, particularly in relation to this vital match with Wexford.

"We know they will be favourites to set up a semi-final with Kilkenny but Oisin has the boys buzzing, I can tell you that."

McConville, who is currently director of football at Dundalk Institute of Technology and has helped other teams in various ways, has quickly become acclimatised to his new role with Laois where he is very much regarded as a father figure by the players.

"I must say I am impressed with the way in which the Laois management go about their business and their desire to bring the team on is certainly palpable," states McConville. "The players are keen, the hunger is there and the challenge for them now is to deliver a big performance against a Wexford team that will be well fired up.

"I think if the crowd get behind them this Laois side can show what they are capable of, and if they leave everything they have out on the pitch you can't ask for more than that."

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