Brislane bolsters hurling revival
November 30, 2007
While defeat to Kildare in the semi-final of the Christy Ring Cup may not the type of season closer that a Tipperary hurler is used to, for Eoin Brislane the 2007 campaign in which he wore the green and gold shirt of Meath for the first time could potentially be the start of a fruitful association with his adopted county.
The Toomervara clubman, who has donned the blue and yellow jersey in the past, was a surprise inclusion in the Meath panel for the NHL Division 2 trip to Carlow and after being sprang from the bench to post three second half points which instigated the visitors minimum margin success, Brislane became an instant hit with Royal supporters.
To move from one of the aristocrats of hurling to a lesser light in the small ball code such as Meath must have been a difficult decision for Brislane to make but the imposing attacker was keen to stress that he had no regrets in making the move and hopes to continue plying his trade with the Royal County for many more years to come.
"I've been involved with Toomevara and also was with the Tipperary county side for a while and while Meath would not be regarding as a primary hurling side I could see absolutely no difference in the approach taken by Meath in comparison to that of Tipp," Brislane said.
"To be honest I didn't really know what to expect when I came up to Meath. But I couldn't speak positively enough about John Andrews. His training was very detailed and he put everything he had into it. If anything I would say that my game has improved since I began playing with the side.
"My first game was against Carlow in the league and I had only arrived down when I was thrown a jersey and they told me I might get a few minutes and then we were losing by eight points at half-time, they decided to bring me on and we ended up winning by a point so it was a great way to start," he added.
Brislane's presence in the Meath hurling ranks seemed to give Andrews' charges the perfect confidence booster and although their league campaign petered out tamely, the Christy Ring Cup was always the primary objective and with the Tipperary native bolstering their attack, they trudged their way to the group stages of the competition, emerging as one of the most likely candidates for outright honours.
A draw with eventual winners Westmeath in the opening round was followed by victories over Mayo, Kerry and Down which set them up nicely for a last four date with Kildare but the trip to Tullamore did not turn out as most had anticipated and a lacklustre performance saw the Royals lose out by the minimum against their dogged opponents.
It was a disappointing conclusion to a season that promised to exceed all expectations but although accepting that a narrow loss to the Lilywhites was a setback, Brislane pointed out that 2007 marked a significant improvement from previous years and believes that the current crop of players have the potential to bring further success to the county.
"In comparison to other years, this year was definitely an improvement but we were bitterly disappointed not to have reached the Christy Ring Final. Our expectations were very high at the start of the year and the most disappointing thing was that we didn't play well against Kildare and still we were only beaten by one point.
"All is not lost though and there is a very young panel of players there who have an awful lot of potential. Perhaps because it was Kildare's fourth semi-final in a row they had a little bit of an edge over us experience wise but we'll be back again next year and I fully expect us to be in the shake up," Brislane remarked.
So why did Brislane make the move down from Tipperary to join John Andrews' and his troops? There were a number of contributory factors, his good relationship with player-selector Kevin Dowd, the lack of club activity while Tipperary are still in the championship and also work commitments which often brought him towards the banks of the River Boyne.
"With the way that the Tipperary club championship is, there is a fourteen week break between our last game and our next one and it would have been very frustrating not to have played any hurling in that spell so it was a great move for me to come down to Meath and I am very grateful to them.
"I knew Kevin Dowd and we get on well together and I suppose it was down to him that I decided to come down and play but I am glad that he twisted my arm as I've had a great year and thoroughly enjoyed it.
"I have every intention to keep hurling for the next four or five years and I hope to finish out my hurling career with Meath and I've no doubt that in that time we can win something so that my aim anyway," Brislane added.
There is no doubt that hurling in Meath plays second fiddle to their footballing counterparts and Brislane believes that it is identical in Tipperary only for it is the other way around. However, success breeds interest and the Tommevara lad is convinced that if the Royals hurling outfit can start to make their mark, it will definitely generate interest from the fans.
"Meath is very similar to Tipperary in that it has one main sport which is Gaelic football and hurling plays second fiddle whereas in Tipperary it is the opposite but I'm sure that if the bunch of lads that are there at the moment can stick together and keep working away they will do wonders for the promotion of hurling in Meath," Brislane said.
As well as playing a prominent role in the Meath hurling revival, Brislane is also a vital cog in the success story of Murray Stone who continue to provide one of the best granite services in Ireland.
Established in 1908 as primarily a headstone business, Murray Stone has gradually expanded through the years and has now become one of the most successful solid surface companies and is held in the highest regard by many astute judges in the industry.
Brislane began his association with Murray Stone back in 2004 and has enjoyed a productive couple of years as Sales Manager for the firm. He is one of twenty people directly employed by Murray Stone and like the Meath hurling side, Brislane is confident that the solid surface company will continue to prosper for the foreseeable future.
"I've been with Murray stone for a little over three and a half years now and the expansion even since then has been huge. I travel all around the county but I am mostly based around Laois, Offaly, Dublin, Kildare and Meath," Brislane said.
"The company has been established since 1908 when it started in the headstone business but it has since become one of the biggest granite companies in Ireland and is still expanding so who knows when the success will stop?"
"Murray Stone would definitely be one of the top two solid surface companies out there and we cover the vast proportion of the country and it currently has a direct workforce of about twenty.
"Everything is going in line with our expectations at present and with a loyal and dedicated workforce, it is sure to continue on the upgrade in the forthcoming years," Brislane concluded.
Brislane's vibrant personality and gift-of-the-gab is undoubtedly a valuable asset to Murray Stone and his ability with a hurley in hand is sure to drive Meath forward in their attempt to bridge the gap between the Royals and the top hurling sides in the country.
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