Laois senior hurling manager, Eddie Brennan, will find himself in an unusual situation when he takes to the pitch for Graigue-Ballycallan in the Leinster Final on Saturday.
There were great scenes at the end of last month when the Kilkenny club regained their senior status with a thrilling victory against neighbours, Tullaroan. They then went on to record a dominant win over Wexford’s St Mogue’s Fethard in the Leinster semi-final.
Declan Browne’s side could lift more silverware this weekend but standing in their way is Portlaoise and a very familiar face; Brennan’s selector with Laois, Tommy Fitzgerald.
“I’m trying to keep pushing plenty of food into Tommy (Fitzgerald) this week anyway and get him bulked up so he won’t be able to run around. It’s an unusual one, it’s gas, the two of us would have spoken maybe four weeks ago. It kind of dawned on me. I said, ‘Ye won the senior B, are ye in the intermediate (in Leinster)? Are we in line to run into each other?'”
“In a way, you’re kind of hoping that doesn’t come to pass. Then after the semi-final when we beat Fethard the first thing I was concerned about was who won the other one.
“When you heard it was (Portlaoise), it’s the man above having a dark sense of humour. It’s him or me, that’s the way it will be. We’ve agreed to stay at opposite ends of the pitch and not try to run into each other too much.”
Looking forward to a Leinster club final is probably the last thing Eddie Brennan expected to be doing seven years ago when he hung up his boots at inter-county level but the lure of success remains strong.
The 40-year-old still has a lot to offer his side as he produced 1-1 in that semi-final win. Not that he’s clinging to any glimmer of glory, it is his dedication to the team that keeps him motivated.
“I would have said straight up to Deccy, ‘Whatever you want. If it’s coming in for 10 minutes, if it’s just being in the dressing room, if it’s just being there training, whatever it is.”
“You look at it and say, ‘Am I in the way or am I actually contributing something?’ And that’s the reality of it because if I can help in some way – it’s all about the young lads in our club. I got huge satisfaction out of the county final, seeing them win something and watching how they’ve kicked on in the last couple of weeks. They’re the future of the club.”
“It’s certainly not about someone like me anymore and it’s brilliant to see them get a county final under their belt and go into Nowlan Park in those surrounds and excel and succeed.
“I know myself, that winning habit gives you belief and confidence to go forward. I would have huge, huge hope for our club. In a couple of years time, why we can’t be knocking on the door and winning seniors?”
So, if and when the eight-time All Ireland winner decides to call it a day, the club will be left in good hands with the rotation of formidable and talented hurlers who will ensure success for years to come. As is the Kilkenny way.
Graigue Ballycallan’s Eddie Brennan was speaking ahead of the AIB GAA Leinster Intermediate Hurling Club Championship Final where they face Portlaoise on Saturday, December 1st at Nowlan Park.
AIB is in its 28th season sponsoring the GAA Club Championship and will celebrate their 6th season sponsoring the Camogie Association. AIB is delighted to continue to support Senior, Junior and Intermediate Championships across football, hurling, and camogie.