Fennelly relishing Laois challenge

Fennelly relishing Laois challenge

New Laois senior hurling manager Brendan Fennelly has committed to getting the very best from the O'Moore County players as they prepare for the 2011 campaign.

Kilkenny native Fennelly was appointed as Niall Rigney's successor on Monday night, and believes that there is sufficient talent in Laois to bring improved results.

"My immediate priority will be to set up a backroom team in line with the Laois County Board to make sure the backroom team is in place," he said.

"Secondly is to prepare and get the very best hurlers out of Laois hurling for their county, and get the very best out of those players and be ready for next year's league."

And Fennelly, who is currently managing Kilkenny SHC semi-finalists Carrickshock, recognises the good work that has been put into Laois in recent years.

"I'm very aware of the good work that people like Niall and people like him have done in Laois. They were probably just a bit unlucky last summer that it didn't end right," he told Midlands 103.

"It wasn't a fair reflection of all the work the lads had done."

Recent seasons have seen player revolts in Cork and Limerick over managerial appointments, and Fennelly is fully aware that players scrutinise their manager heavily and expect high standards from management teams.

"It's all about preparation really and lads preparing properly. Lads feel that when they go into a team nowadays - and I even find with any club you go into now or even with young teams - the first person to be judged is the manager really, because the players come back from colleges and third level and places like that and they have the highest quality of training, the highest quality preparation.

"Players do prepare mentally and physically, in a professional manner. The manager has to prove to them nowadays that he can do it as well. They have to take the lead from there.

"That has been in my plans and I would be very, very anxious to get a good team of people around me and a good team of people from Laois because it's Laois' team.

"People like me and other people come in from other counties and do a job, whether it be good, bad or indifferent.

"The Laois people love to hurl, they love their hurling and I would love to have a good back-up in Laois itself."

Laois have not claimed a Leinster SHC title since 1949, while their lone All-Ireland success was in 1915.

Fennelly has coached plenty of club sides to Championship wins in the past and is addicted to the lure of helping a team reach a historical milestone.

"That is a huge challenge and I have seen that. I've seen it at a lesser level and I am well aware that I am moving into a higher level of hurling than I have been involved in for the last number of years.

"That has been happening and that is the challenge that I really like.

"I get a real thrill out of joining a bunch of fellas that are maybe trying to get to the next level and helping them get to the next level. That happens at club level in Kilkenny as well - any of the clubs that I have been involved with.

"I was with Dunnamaggin in senior, and they won their first Senior Championship in 100 years when I was with them.

"When I hurled for Ballyhale Shamrocks we won our first ever Senior Hurling Championship as a team. I went to De La Salle and they won their first ever Waterford Senior Hurling Championship.

"I was with Mullinahone and they were trying to win their first ever Tipperary Championship. I'm with Carrickshock now and even though the old history is that they may have won Championships back in the 1930s and 1940s, but it wasn't at a parish level. They are trying to win their first Championship ever and that's what I love and strive for."

Fennelly has also urged former hurlers in Laois to get involved with managing underage sides - a system which has reaped huge rewards in his native Kilkenny.

"I have been involved with development squads over the last couple of years in Leinster and I can see the huge effort that is being put in, in Laois at Under-15 and Under-16 levels.

"I have been involved with Kilkenny and I can see that the standard is improving in Laois and other counties. The Leinster Council are doing a fantastic job to improve it there.

"I would be saying to people that have been involved with Laois at inter-county level and are retired now to give something back there, because there are huge rewards in it as well."

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