Thanks to Eddie Brennan's Laois, the summer of hurling is now taking off

Thanks to Eddie Brennan's Laois, the summer of hurling is now taking off
Willie Dunphy of Laois celebrates scoring a second half point. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

IT’S going to be all down to what happens now in the big house in Dublin.

Barring draws, there are just five games remaining in the inter-county hurling season and all of them are in Croke Park.

When Laois departed headquarters after their Joe McDonagh Cup triumph last Sunday week they must have been thinking to themselves, when will we be back up here again?

Given the progress that had been made under the managerial baton of Eddie Brennan, they would not have been in fear of Dublin in the preliminary quarter-final game on their own patch in Portlaoise but, realistically, they might have been thinking that this was a bridge just that bit too far this time.

After all, they were facing the side that had eliminated one of the championship favourites from the competition, last year’s runners-up and the previous year’s winners, Galway.

In fact, there was quite a bit of talk about Dublin giving Tipperary their belly full of it in the quarter-final, all the more so after their Munster final hammering.

In the Premier County last week they might well have discussed how they would cope with Dublin’s challenge.

Well, so much for all of that now and on Sunday evening,, Liam Sheedy and his management team had to do a quick u-turn and instead focus their minds on the O’Moore County.

You would not describe the Laois victory over the Dubs as being sensational but it wasn’t far off it either.

There had been too many negative vibes coming out of the county in recent years, players not making themselves available for selection, a lot of bad blood in the aftermath of last season’s county final involving Camross and Rathdowney and nothing to suggest that something might be stirring.

But they got the right man at the right time to try and turn the ship around and the former Kilkenny star has done quite a magnificent job in getting them into the last six of the championship.

Of course, when you have a born winner at the helm like Brennan, it’s not a bad starting off point.

And isn’t it all about getting players to listen to someone who has been there and done that.

That is some achievement when you consider that Galway, Dublin, Clare and Waterford are twiddling their thumbs seven months out from the start of next season.

This is a huge setback for Dublin hurling and they appear to be further than ever away from being serious title contenders.

Maybe they were complacent after that night in Parnell Park against Galway but whatever it was, they became part of the season’s great stories but for all the wrong reasons.

One thing is for certain now, Tipp won’t be complacent next Sunday and, suddenly, they will believe that they will reinvent themselves and become very serious title contenders.

And, let’s face it, their path might just be a little clearer than those on the other side of the draw.

But back to Laois and what a pity that RTÉ didn’t see fit to televise last Sunday’s game live.

After all, they had the cameras in place for the Clare and Meath football game which served as the curtain-raiser.

Over the past few weeks there has been plenty of criticism of the fact that little or no coverage was given to the Joe McDonagh Cup, just a few minutes here and there on The Sunday Game.

Fair enough, some of the games might had very little appeal and they were played in front of paltry attendances.

But Sunday was a perfect opportunity to give the competition some little bit of respect by having its winners live on TV.

Cork’s victory in Mullingar was as routine as it gets and this was an illustration of a different kind, how wide the gap is between first and second tier counties.

Cork went about their task in a very efficient manner and, after all, you can only play what’s in front of you.

John Meyler gave Westmeath every respect by selecting a very strong 15.

The Cork boss is too much of a hurling man to disrespect any opposition and he more qualified than anybody else because he has worked at all levels of the game.

This was very much a case of a team sailing in very calm waters before they hit, in all probability, far more choppy waters next weekend when Kilkenny.

Cork had 11 different scorers last Sunday and it was the first time that the milestone of 40 points had been reached in a McCarthy cup game.

That was a nice little souvenir to take home with you on Sunday evening.

Of course, the question might be posed, would a more rigorous workout have been more beneficial to Cork in advance of next Sunday’s encounter with the Cats.

You could say that Cork have now had a month’s break since their last serious match, a loss to Clare whereas Kilkenny had that humdinger with Wexford a fortnight ago.

Could that be a factor? Who knows but when Cork and Kilkenny collide on a big championship day, the game takes on a life of its own.

You don’t really know what to expect and there have been some strange goings on during the Summer.

We got quite a few lopsided games, particularly in Munster when we expected much closer issues, we had the elimination of Galway by Dublin and now Dublin by Laois But it really only gets very serious now.

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