Tuesday 17 September 2019

Kilkenny mourn visionary Brennan

Damien Brennan. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE
Damien Brennan. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Independent.ie Sportdesk

He was far away from the spotlight and the headlines but Brother Damien Brennan played a crucial role in Kilkenny's unprecedented All-Ireland SHC success since the turn of the millennium and his sad passing has hit those on Noreside hard.

Rarely will you hear of a person being talked about in such glowing terms by those who knew him as Brother Damien was and he touched many lives throughout his 59 years before losing his battle with serious illness.

A native of Arles in Laois, Brennan was a highly-respected secondary school principal at Coláiste Éamann Rís in Callan where he was adored by students and parents alike.

Having moved to Kilkenny, he managed the Cats to All-Ireland minor success in 2003 before managing several college teams throughout his career - he was also a renowned physio - but his work behind the scenes is what he is best known for.

Brennan was regularly lauded by Kilkenny legends Jackie Tyrrell and Henry Shefflin for the influence he played in shaping their careers with nine-time All-Ireland winner Tyrrell adamant that he wouldn't have achieved what he did without his guidance and help.

Brother Damien features extensively in Tyrrell's autobiography 'The Warrior's Code' and made a rare appearance in his 'Laochra Gael' episode on TG4, with the four-time All-Star outlining how he gave him the confidence to feel at home in the black and amber and also go from strength to strength off the pitch.

"He put unbelievable faith in me and more or less turned my career around for me. At that stage I was just there at corner-back and kind of happy to hold my own," Tyrrell wrote of his early days with the Cats before working with Brennan.

"After then I just flourished and really came on and really believed in myself. Meeting that man, he really believed in me hugely and I probably wouldn't be where I am today without him. He is a great man."

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Brother Damien will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé.

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