Monday 16 September 2019

Brennan's boys bring mindset of legendary Kilkenny outfit

Laois manager Eddie Brennan. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Laois manager Eddie Brennan. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

For Laois manager Eddie Brennan, a familiar sense settled over him on Friday evening that let him know his young Joe McDonagh-winning side were ready for the challenge Dublin would present.

And while there's a world of difference in coming from a set-up where he won multiples of every honour in the game to a county that hasn't contested an All-Ireland quarter-final since 1979, Brennan clearly brought some of that Kilkenny atmosphere to the table.

"Sometimes years ago when we'd be pucking around in Nowlan Park, I remember Peter Barry used to say to me that you can hear a rhythm in the ball being pucked around," he revealed, speaking to's GAA podcast, The Throw-In, in association with Bord Gáis Energy.

"If you closed your eyes you can almost sense a mood. We went into the dressing room after training and you could just sense that mood."

"John Lennon spoke and Matthew Whelan spoke and Mark Kavanagh finished it and it was just genuine.

"It wasn't trying to fill the space or talk for the sake of it and for me that was very pleasing. It came from a genuine mindset and a genuine train of thought and most of all they weren't afraid to express it. They were well able to take it over. It's all about letting them grow and they grew all year, especially in the last couple of weeks.

"They just really drove it on. It was just a mood and atmosphere in the dressing room and we knew they were tuned into it."

Few had given the hurlers from the O'Moore County a chance against Mattie Kenny's Dublin - in fact, some bookies had already priced up a Dublin v Tipperary quarter-final.

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However, after letting the players off the leash for a couple of days to celebrate last week's Joe McDonagh triumph, that Friday meeting left Brennan feeling that an upset was on the cards.

"We were confident. We were trying to measure how much to prod the lads during the week. We didn't want to let them let this pass them by," he explained.

"The most satisfying thing for me is that you're seeing guys that maybe hadn't the greatest of confidence in themselves last November. They're generally a quiet bunch and even yesterday we just tried to get them to roll with the occasion, to enjoy it and not be afraid of it." And they did, they went out and really expressed themselves."

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