Fennelly takes Laois hot-seat
Kilkenny man to succeed Niall Rigney as hurling manager
LAOIS hurlers are hoping that some Kilkenny magic can work the oracle next year after it emerged that Brendan Fennelly will be their next manager.
A member of the famous Ballyhale clan, Fennelly's name will go forward for rubber-stamping at a full county board meeting next Monday night.
Laois hurling committee chairman Kieran Delaney confirmed that the current Carrickshock manager is their choice to succeed Niall Rigney - and duly outlined what they hope he can achieve.
"We have a very young squad, average age 22 or 23. Niall Rigney did a great job with them over the last two-and-a-half years, and it's just to take it to the next level - to get into Division One and maybe be a contender in Leinster," Delaney told the Evening Herald.
Fennelly's celebrated siblings include Liam, who twice lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup as Kilkenny captain, and Kevin, who has previously managed both Kilkenny and Dublin.
Brendan himself has an impressive coaching CV. He has previously managed Dunnamaggin and is leading Carrickshock's quest for club honours this season - they face a county SHC quarter-final against James Stephens in Callan this Sunday.
Fennelly was part of the backroom team that led De La Salle to Waterford and Munster titles in 2008 en route to the '09 All-Ireland club final, where they lost to Portumna. Delaney also pointed out that the incoming manager has previously trained the Kilkenny U21s in the early '90s and, in recent years, was involved with Kilkenny underage development squads.
The Kilkenny man has been chosen by a six-man selection committee led by county board chairman Brian Allen. His backroom team had yet to be finalised while it's hoped he will take charge for either a two or three-year term.
The O'Moore county's Division Two rivals next spring will include a Limerick side bolstered by the arrival of Donal O'Grady, whose appointment on a one-year term has ended that most acrimonious chapter in recent Shannonside history.
O'Grady previously took Cork from the shambles of a player strike in 2002 and brought them to an All-Ireland final (the following September) and then the title itself in '04. Now he hopes to lead Limerick back from an even deeper abyss, and he has already confirmed that those players who made themselves unavailable to fellow Corkman Justin McCarthy this year will be considered.
"At this moment no panel exists. Any player who makes himself available will be considered for selection. That is the only sensible way to look at it. Anyone willing to put the shoulder to the wheel will be considered," he revealed.
The recently-retired school principal has stressed that he doesn't plan on hanging around beyond one year. "My feeling is that there is enough managerial talent in Limerick but they felt they needed a little bit of stability after the last couple of years. Maybe I was approached because I had come in after the Cork strike a few years ago. What they wanted was Limerick people to be directing the ship but they wanted the experience brought in first to put structures in place that they could carry on themselves," he outlined.
O'Grady will be ratified at a county board meeting tonight along with his backroom team of Ciarán Carey, TJ Ryan and Pat Heffernan.