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Tipperary manager Liam Cahill pictured ahead of the Bord Gais Energy All Ireland Under 20 hurling decider.
Tipperary manager Liam Cahill pictured ahead of the Bord Gais Energy All Ireland Under 20 hurling decider.

Liam Cahill remains focused on Cork challenge

By Cian O’Connell

In Tipperary, with the celebrations ongoing following a stirring All Ireland triumph, Liam Cahill knows about the importance of remaining earnest and focused.

Cahill, busy preparing the Tipperary Under 20 outfit for Saturday’s intriguing national Bord Gais Energy Championship decider against Cork at the LIT Gaelic Grounds, acknowledges just how vital it is that the Premier players are minded carefully.

How important is it to manage the hype with an emerging group for the rest of the week? “It is, it's a very good question,” Cahill replies.

“These guys are very impressionable. They're only 19, 18, 20 years of age. It is a big challenge to keep the focus on the job at hand which is Saturday at six o'clock here at the Gaelic Grounds. We're back in.

“We're going to really just hone in around our performance and our game. Concentrate on what we have to do. I know the county is gone wild. Hopefully we have a big following here on Saturday.

“We as a management team and panel have to get our heads around what will be required. This is going to be a massive challenge on Saturday.”

The Tipperary Under 20 management opted for the panel not to travel to Croke Park as a collective unit. “No we didn't,” Cahill says.

Liam Cahill celebrates following Tipperary's Bord Gais Energy All Ireland Under 21 Final win in 2018.
Liam Cahill celebrates following Tipperary's Bord Gais Energy All Ireland Under 21 Final win in 2018.

“We trained Saturday evening. The players all went of their own accord. I'd say the majority of them went to Dublin to support their team-mates and the county and were back down again on Sunday night.”

That several of Cahill’s 2018 All Ireland Under 21 winning crop contributed to Tipperary’s triumph merely added to the sense of satisfaction.

“It's great, it really is,” Cahill states about how the Tipperary youngsters have developed. “It makes me very proud to be honest to have played some small part in helping these fellas to the level they're at now.

“You see Ger Browne and Mark Kehoe come on and Jake Morris. There's another seven or eight guys that are on the panel and extended panel that will definitely progress and see action next year and many more years after that.

“It's brilliant when you see it start coming together like that. In fairness to the three boys I've mentioned, they really came of age over the last two games in particular, the Wexford game and the All-Ireland.

“They really strengthened up the bench and really brought something to the table when they were asked to come on.”

Following Tipperary’s Under 21 triumph over Cork last August Cahill was immediately linked with the senior vacancy which was eventually filled by Liam Sheedy.

Tipperary Under 20 manager Liam Cahill.
Tipperary Under 20 manager Liam Cahill.

“Again it was all fairly helter skelter after the Under 21 All Ireland,” Cahill recalls. “Michael Ryan had stepped aside and obviously names were going to be bandied about. At the time it wasn't the be all and end all, but when you did enter the process you'd like to maybe have the success of being appointed.

“Myself and Mikey, in particular, who was part of my intentions going forward knew Liam Sheedy was in the mix. It was a no brainer for everybody involved and it has proven right. He was the right man at the right time with the ample experience required for a team that was in a situation needing to kick on.

“He had the expertise of having worked with some of these older players before so the fit was just right. Hats off to everybody, especially to Liam, his management team, all the players involved and to the County Board and everybody associated with the appointment. It was work well done.”

How Tommy Dunne and Liam Sheedy returned to occupy such a central role for Tipperary doesn’t surprise Cahill in the slightest.

“Tommy Dunne and Liam Sheedy always set incredible standards as players,” Cahill explains. “Tommy was just a complete winner as well as Liam too.

"Liam's inter-county career mightn't have been as decorated as Tommy's, but they were both very passionate, great motivators and great men to put their own game at risk for the benefit of others.

“Really it didn't matter what number jerseys they had on their backs when they were playing. Once they were part of a Tipperary squad they were in it 100%.

Liam Cahill and John O'Connor collide during the 1997 All Ireland SHC Semi-Final at Croke Park.
Liam Cahill and John O'Connor collide during the 1997 All Ireland SHC Semi-Final at Croke Park.

“You will see that in the squad at senior level, they are a large squad, but the unity seems to be absolutely incredible. It has all the hallmarks of them two men over it, I'm really thrilled for both of them.”

Having already steered Tipperary to All Ireland titles at minor and Under 21 level, Cahill is now looking for a third crown in four years. “It is there, it is very pleasing and flattering,” Cahill accepts. “Really it doesn't come into it, even last year we didn't mention it to the panel over the course of the year.”

Assisting young Tipperary hurlers fulfil their true potential is critical according to Cahill. “We might have made reference to last year in terms of trying to do things better from a team perspective, we've never made last year as a barometer for this particular crop,” Cahill adds.

“Every year is different. I suppose the joy of being involved at this grade is that the turnover of players is big, you don't have the same number of players in front of you sitting in front of you listening to the same spiel from me every year.

“What we are doing is working because of the turnover of players and you don't have to reinvent the wheel every year because of the changing faces in front of you. It is a help.

“This is just a point in time for these players and for us trying to put a bit of silverware on the table in their journey to being adult senior players in time.”

That remains the ultimate objective and Cahill is doing his bit for the blue and gold cause.

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