A tale which looked as though its final chapter had been written on Easter Monday 2001 took another twist on Tuesday evening when Eugene Cloonan was named manager of Kilkenny club Graigue Ballycallan.
In the 2001 All-Ireland club hurling final against Graigue Ballycallan, Cloonan - playing for Athenry - scored a famous and crucial goal with the hurley of his marker Paddy O'Dwyer. The goal took the game to extra-time and Athenry went on to win their third All-Ireland in five years. In all, Cloonan hit 1-11 in that game.
At a meeting of the Graigue Ballycallan management committee, Cloonan - who hurled for Galway between 1997 and 2008 - was ratified as manager of the club's senior hurlers for the coming season.
The 41-year-old won three club All-Irelands and was named an All-Star in 2001. He was a selector with the Galway hurlers under Anthony Cunningham in 2014 and 2015.
16 April 2001; Eugene Cloonan of Athenry scores a last minute goal with the hurl of his marker Paddy O'Dwyer despite the challenge from James Ryall of Graigue Ballycallan. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
The Graigue Ballycallan senior team has an average age of just 22 and this appealed to their new manager.
"We know in our own heart and soul that player development is a big thing with him," Graigue Ballycallan chairman Dave O'Neill told Balls regarding the appointment.
Graigue Ballycallan retained its senior status this year by beating Danesfort by two points in the Kilkenny relegation final.
Two years ago, the club won promotion to senior level with victory over Tullaroan in the intermediate final. Cloonan was in attendance at the game. There are other connections with the club. The Galwayman works with Graigue Ballycallan's six-time All-Ireland winner James Ryall. It was Ryall who put in a final despairing challenge as Cloonan scored that goal in 2001.
Cloonan replaces former Kilkenny minor manager Pat Hoban as boss. Tipperary football All-Star Declan Browne had also managed the club in recent years.
Picture credits: Sportsfile