Laois hurling manager Eddie Brennan knows Tipperary very well.
As a player, he came up against them many times while in the black and amber of Kilkenny.
While as a person, Brennan’s club Graigue-Ballycallan is right on the Kilkenny-Tipperary border.
Looking ahead to the game tomorrow afternoon in Croke Park, Brennan admits that these connections do add an extra level of intrigue to what promises to be a very exciting game.
He said: “They probably are our biggest rivals where I live anyway at home. Our club would border with Ballingarry and there’d be a healthy rivalry with them there.
“I would have worked with some of them, but look it’s like anywhere close to a border, there’s always a good stir and you go out the road here to Borris and it’s no different.
“So look there’s that dynamic to what’s coming this weekend and I suppose it adds another little underlying narrative to it perhaps, but it is what it is for me the big thing is we’re in the last six of the championship – which is mad really when you process that.”
And what Brennan says is indeed right – the fact that Laois are among the final six teams left in the championship is simply staggering giving where they have come from.
12 months ago, Laois had to beat Meath in their final Joe McDonagh Cup game just to stay up in the competition and avoid making the drop to the Christy Ring Cup.
Fast forward a year, Laois have won that competition, gained entry into the Leinster championship and then pulled off a massive shock by defeating Dublin in O’Moore Park last Sunday.
Laois only had six days to prepare for that game against a side who, just three weeks previous, had knocked 2018 defeated All-Ireland finalists Galway out of the championship.
Brennan is now looking for his side to build on that wonderful win and enjoy their second trip to Croke Park in three weeks.
He said: “The job is to always be self critical at times and that’s without ever being negative about it.
“You have to go back and reflect on it and say “Where can we tidy up?” and you’d say definitely last week there was an element of luck because the chances that Dublin butchered in that match, and there’s one thing for sure is that Tipp won’t butcher them.
“Some of the points that they missed were just unbelievable.
“And I’m never going to take away from what we’ve done and what we’ve achieved, but at the same time the learning is there for us. We have to say to ourselves this is different.
“We have to push ourselves to go out of the comfort zone yet again and have a go, because I think the one thing you don’t ever do is stand back from something.
“You can’t at this level and that is something that’s very, very simple when it comes to hurling. You can’t stand back from a team and allow them to have possession and let them dictate proceedings or it’s gonna be a painful afternoon.”
Laois face Tipperary in Croke Park on Sunday at 4pm. The winner will take on Wexford.