Iarlaith Daly hopes Waterford players repay Cahill's loyalty
By John Harrington
Iarlaith Daly says the Waterford hurlers will be highly motivated this year to justify manager Liam Cahill’s faith in them.
Cahill had the option of succeeding Liam Sheedy as manager of his native Tipperary, but instead said he felt “duty-bound” to remain with Waterford, citing the “dedication and loyalty” of the players.
That loyalty is now a two-way street and Daly hopes it will be a source of inspiration for the year ahead.
“I suppose because they decided to stay on it was kind of a vote of confidence in us,” he said.
“We weren't really paying much attention to the whole Tipp scenario. We were kind of more focused on ourselves.
“I think it's up to us now to pay that back, if you like, and try to reward their loyalty towards us and we're completely focused on doing just that. Yeah, it was a great vote of confidence in us as a group of players.
“It was no secret that the players really wanted Liam and Mikey (Bevans) to stay on. They're an incredibly honest bunch, very straight with us and very easy to approach as well. They kind of brought something different to the set-up. There's a lot of buy-in there and we're just really enjoying it and enjoying them while they're here.”
Daly believes Cahill’s natural leadership skills and Bevans’ coaching acumen make them the perfect management double-act.
“Exactly,” he said. “MIkey is a very good coach. You can go to him with anything and he'll take it away, process it, and come back with all the answers and his take on things.
“Liam is a real approachable fella, real honest and straight. He's a great man to motivate and is extremely honest and he's very straight with us as a group of players. They go hand in hand together and make a great team and that's what we're really enjoying about the two of them and the backroom team.”
Waterford have blooded a lot of promising young players like Daly in the past two years and such is their depth of talent now they arguably look better positioned than any other county to knock Limerick from their perch.
“Yeah, I suppose we've good personnel,” says Daly. “Tadhg (De Burca) is back as well and Pauric (Mahony) will be back when Ballygunner are finished with their campaign.
“There's a great age-profile there and we have a management team that ultimately backs us to do it.
“We have to just reciprocate what they're after giving us and really try to reward the confidence they have shown in us. So, yeah, we'll definitely go out and have a cut off it and see how we get on and hopefully it's for the better.
“We don't want to fall into the pigeon-hole of taking on Limerick, though. We have to play other exceptional teams. Like, Cork are a brilliant team. Clare are a brilliant team.
“And it's a round-robin this year so you'll be having a cut off every Munster team and, hopefully, with the help of God, whatever team comes from Leinster.
“They are the benchmark, Limerick, and we've ultimately fallen short the past two years to Limerick in Finals and semi-finals. We'll be playing them this year in the Munster Championship and hopefully we can put a few things right."
For now, Daly’s priority is an extended run of matches after his 2021 season was badly disrupted by two quad injuries.
“After we played Laois in the Qualifiers I tore my quad in the training after the game,” he said. “That saw me out for the rest of the inter-county season and then after that finished we got back with club and played one game against Tallow and tore the same quad again.
“So, yeah, a bit frustrating all in all. I had to get down and work hard and I'm back now to full fitness. I spent a lot of time rehabbing and getting it up to the same strength as the other quad.
“Feeling good now, I've been training on it ever since and it doesn't seem to be giving me any bother. Fingers crossed it stays that way.”
Daly played 55 minutes for Waterford in their one-point defeat to Clare in the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling Cup semi-final on Saturday and now hopes to be involved for UCC in the first round of the Electric Ireland FItgibbon Cup on Wednesday against Mary Immaculate College Limerick.
A star-studded UCC panel features a host of inter-county players like Rob Downey, Shane Barrett, Niall O’Leary, Tommy O’Connell (all Cork), Conor Boylan, William Henn (both Limerick), and Mark Kehoe and Conor Bowe (both Tipperary), and are one of the favourites to go all the way this year.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of fairly high profile personnel in there,” says Daly. “I'm looking forward to getting and playing amongst the lads. It'll be interesting now to see how we can perform. There's players from different counties, all over the place really, so it's just about seeing how we get on.
“Obviously Mary I are in the first round and are always there or there abouts. They were in a final there not too long ago. They always seem to have a strong team and we have them in the first round so they'll be a big challenge.
“NUIG are a very good team too and UCD are obviously a very good team as well. We probably got the toughest group, it's just about focusing on ourselves and seeing how we can progress in Fitzgibbon.”