An element of good fortune helped former Kilkenny champions, Ballyhale Shamrocks land a crack new management team.
Former Tipperary star, Colm Bonnar and Andy Moloney will spearhead the Shamrocks drive to regain the senior hurling title in 2014.
The pair were signed up by the South Kilkenny outfit after an earlier deal they had agreed with Ballygunner (Waterford) fell through.
The Bonnar/Moloney/Shamrocks agreement is a done deal, and the management pair will meet with the new selectors and squad within the next week or so.
Shamrocks manager of the past two season, Tommy Shefflin, and his selectors Patrick O’Sullivan, John Drennan and Michael Kelly stepped down some time ago, although they had been invited to remain on.
Mr Shefflin has since been appointed to the Kilkenny under-21 hurling management team.
The club approached Mr Bonnar and his colleague before Christmas with a view to taking over the vacancy. However, they were told that the pair were already committed.
The pair became available again in recent weeks, and they were snapped up by the 12 times Kilkenny champions after impressing club representatives during a short meeting.
Messrs Bonnar and Moloney have been involved in individual training sessions with Shamrocks in the past, and club officials were hugely impressed by the drills, high tempo and general content of the programme.
When the vacancy arose at the club the former Tipperary hurler and Waterford selector and trainer and his colleague were top of the Shamrocks wanted list. However, it looked like the Noresiders had been beaten to the punch, but they landed their men at the second attempt.
Mr Bonnar won two senior All-Irelands with Tipperary, and also All-Stars honours. When he finished playing he got into coaching and worked with both Gerald and Justin McCarthy in Waterford between 1999 and 2003. The Suirsiders won their first Munster title in nearly 40 years during that period.
Later he was a selector in Tipperary during the reign of Ken Hogan as manager, but without success. In more recent times he has helped guide WIT to four wins in six seasons in the Fitzgibbon Cup.
Meanwhile, Kilkenny are hoping to qualify for the final of the Walsh Cup, the early season senior hurling tournament in Leinster.
The Cats booked a place in the semi-finals when they beat DIT at the weekend. The semi will be against Galway in Freshford on Sunday (2pm).
Manager Brian Cody said after Sunday’s success that he wouldn’t mind if the county was involved in Walsh Cup action over the next two weekends, because it would give the players invaluable game time before the mouthwatering National League opener against All-Ireland champions, Clare in Ennis on February 16.
“Galway are looking for the same thing before the start of the League,” Mr Cody said. “This is a good game to get at this time, and it we can get through it would be ideal preparation for the League.”