‘Eugene Cloonan scored the equalising goal with our full-back’s hurl’ – 17 years on for Eddie Brennan

NEWLY-APPOINTED LAOIS manager Brennan will find himself in a unique scenario tomorrow afternoon. 

Graigue Ballycallan’s Eddie Brennan is pictured in Dublin ahead of the AIB GAA Leinster Intermediate Hurling Club Championship Final where they face Portlaoise on Saturday.

Source: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

An unexpected run with Graigue-Ballycallan to the Kilkenny intermediate title and the Leinster club final means he’ll be lining out against his selector Tommy Fitzgerald and a few players who might be involved in the county set-up in 2019.

Brennan is likely to be picked up by Portlaoise’s Cahir Healy, who has yet to commit to the hurling panel for next season as he weighs up a possible return to playing football with Laois. 

“It’s the man above having a dark sense of humour,” laughs Brennan. 

I was trying to keep pushing plenty of food into Tommy 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.

That’s just the nature of it, no more than two club guys squaring off to each other in Fitzgibbon or Sigerson.  

“It’ll be parked up for an hour on Saturday and whatever happens, happens. 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.

“Just looking forward to it, it is what it is. It’s a Leinster final with your club which is just phenomenal, mental really. Looking forward to it in a big, big way.” 

Eugene Cloonan and Paddy O’Dwyer in the 2001 All-Ireland club final.

Source: Patrick Bolger/INPHO

Brennan and James Ryall are the two survivors from the club’s run to the All-Ireland senior final in 2001, where they fell to Galway’s Athenry after extra-time. 

Tribe legend Eugene Cloonan posted 1-11 for the winners that Easter Monday deliver the Tommy Moore Cup.

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Eugene Cloonan scored the equalising goal with our full-back’s hurl that day. There’s a very famous picture of it in ‘A Season Of Sundays’. It’s a standout match and I remember it very distinctly.

“What I remember is the muted, not celebrations, but the aftermath of that. We felt at the time, ‘Ah, we’ll be back, we’ll be back.’ I don’t think (we understood) the enormity of the occasion.

“Getting to a club All-Ireland with your parish team is a huge thing and it’s something that gnawed at us over the years – that we didn’t get back, because we had a young team at the time. A few lads just left and went to Australia, lads went their different ways. We just fell away.

“We were knocking at the door in county semi-finals and then just fresher, younger teams were coming along. I suppose it team eats at the team and it eventually erodes away. Myself and Ryallers are hanging in there anyway.

Former Kilkenny defender James Ryall.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“We’re the two stragglers. James even said a few weeks ago, if you’d said to him three or four years ago that we’d win a county final at this stage and still be rolling in the club campaign…

Of all the things – and we criticise (the GAA) a little bit too easily sometimes, I’m guilty of that occasionally in my capacity as a Sunday Game pundit – to bring the All-Ireland club championships to junior and intermediate level is absolutely brilliant.

“It affords lads an opportunity to live that dream and potentially tog out with your club in Croke Park and play in Leinster finals, club All-Irelands – it’s a great thing. ”

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