Eddie Brennan admits that taking over as Laois manager was an eye-opener - but now he’s got his sights firmly set on getting back into the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship.

Brennan enjoyed a stellar career with Kilkenny, winning eight All-Ireland medals and four All Stars as part of Brian Cody’s golden generation.

Things are very different in the Joe McDonagh Cup, hurling’s second tier, with the O’Moore County.

It took a while for him to adjust to the change of pace. Now that they’re up and running though he has only one thing on his mind.

"The hopes and ambitions are to win your matches and get to the final - simple as that," he said, speaking to RTÉ Sport.

"It’s about being comfortable in saying that and for players to set their targets. Your target has to be to win your matches and get to the McDonagh final.

"This is the Championship that’s open to us; that’s the be-all and end-all and anything less than that will be measured as not succeeding. Success will measured in progression too, in that the players are improving and getting better, but our ambition is to make the McDonagh final."

Laois are in the Joe McDonagh Cup, a new competition slotted in between Liam MacCarthy and Christy Ring competitions last year following a restructuring of the hurling championships, alongside Kerry, Antrim, Offaly and Westmeath.

RTÉ hurling analyst Eddie Brennan

Each team plays the other once, with the top two in the group facing off in the final at the end of June and the winner promoted. Laois begin their campaign away to Offaly on Saturday evening.

The Graigue Ballycallan man had a spell in charge of Kilkenny’s Under-21 hurlers, but the step into management in a different county brought a lot of changes.

"It’s an eye-opener," Brennan explained. "There are aspects I would have learned and observed over the last number of years, but this was still an eye-opener. Your focus is just wider, you’re looking at so many aspects like travel arrangements and all that stuff.

"Definitely the stakes have been upped, without a doubt, and if I thought it was going be easy and I was going to trundle along nice and gently I would have been very foolish. It is what I expected and more - there’s a lot that goes into it and you almost need eyes on the back of your head.

"You’re dealing with two different cultures there and a culture doesn’t happen overnight. Contrast my own experience of playing county hurling and you try to incorporate elements of that into guys. 

‘There’s an element of having to coax lads into a set-up because you don’t have 50 guys waiting for a phone call, no doubt about that.

"But at the same time we have a group of guys who are very committed and if you’re going to create a culture you have to start with the very basics - honesty and hard-work. Once the basics are right the rest of the stuff will follow in time."

Follow all the hurling action this weekend via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, listen to live national commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 and watch live and exclusive TV coverage of the Munster SHC on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player this Sunday.