Saturday 17 August 2019

'They just really drove it on' - Eddie Brennan credits his Laois players for causing big Dublin shock

Laois' Ross King, centre, celebrates with Conor Phelan, left, and Laois manager Eddie Brennan, right, following the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship preliminary round quarter-final win over Dublin at O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Laois' Ross King, centre, celebrates with Conor Phelan, left, and Laois manager Eddie Brennan, right, following the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship preliminary round quarter-final win over Dublin at O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

For Laois manager, Eddie Brennan, it was when a familiar sense settled onto him on Friday evening that he knew his young Joe McDonagh-winning side were ready for the challenge that lay ahead.

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 one which hasn’t even contested an All-Ireland quarter-final since 1979, Brennan has 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 Independent.ie's The Throw-In GAA podcast, 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, if anyone, had given the hurlers from the O'Moore County a chance against a Mattie Kenny Dublin team who were fancied to make a mark on the competition after their famous victory to eliminate 2017 champions and last season’s runners-up, Galway.

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In fact, some bookies had already priced up a Dublin v Tipperary quarter-final.

But 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.

"You're so conscious of how much you push them or how much you intervene. because you don’t want to over-power them. The most satisfying thing for me is that you’re seeing guys that maybe hadn’t the greatest of confidence in themselves last November.

"In a way, we've let them drive it and to see them not being afraid to speak up in front of the group and to drive it on is great.

"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. We had to come with a plan and to a man they executed it

"To me, the job of management is to get the lads into a position where they take control of it and I left that meeting going 'I think we have them, I think these boys are ready for it'."

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