Cahill wants young charges to dispel the myth of Tipp softness

Cahill wants young charges to dispel the myth of Tipp softness
FINAL FRONTIER: Tipperary U20 hurling manager Liam Cahill doesn’t sense any pressure on his group to replicate the feat of 2010 where the Premier County landed the U21 crown a week after reacquainting themselves with Liam MacCarthy. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

It seems an unnecessary message to have to impart to an inter-county team, but Tipperary U20 hurling manager Liam Cahill is blue in the face telling his players to fight and graft all the way to the last whistle.

To do otherwise, says Cahill, is to present an open goal to the hurling public — both inside and outside of the Premier County — to throw that familiar label of Tipp softness at his group, to allow their character and stomach for battle be questioned.

A year on from upsetting Cork in the last ever All- Ireland U21 hurling final, Tipperary meet the Rebels again this Saturday in the first-ever All-Ireland U20 final. Like last year, this is their second meeting of the campaign.

The refusal of Cahill’s charges to throw in the towel in last month’s Munster final saw them shade round one, Jake Morris finding the net in the fourth minute of second-half stoppages to hand the Premier a 3-15 to 2-17 win.

The victory, in Cahill’s eyes anyway, went a distance in dispelling the “myth” that Tipperary teams “don’t see out matches” and are routinely “outworked”.

“Even that Tipp senior squad that won on Sunday would have been seen as a team that mightn’t have always fought out games to the death. The one thing I can say from my years involved in underage hurling is that both Mikey Bevans (selector) and I are trying to bring through the sort of player that will always fight, regardless of whether public perception thinks they have a chance or not,” said Cahill, who served as Tipperary minor manager for four years before stepping up to the U21 gig last year.

We’ve always had real hard-working underage teams that are very modest, play to a plan, but also play for their supporters and that’s what we’re trying to bring through, and maybe quench that myth Tipperary teams don’t see out matches, that Tipperary teams get outworked.

“Over the last number of years, I think we’ve brought quite a number of players through that have that extra dimension to their game versus other teams in the past.”

Maybe not in so many words but you’re saying to your players: Don’t give people the opportunity to throw those labels at you?

“Yeah, yeah, that would be correct. At the end of the day, Tipperary people will have no issue whatsoever with a Tipperary team getting beaten once they’re looking in from the stands at a hard-working Tipperary team, a Tipperary team that’s making mistakes but honest mistakes.

“Once they’re doing that, the Tipp people will back them. But when you see a Tipperary team maybe not relishing the battle, fellas shortening their stride, and ducking their heads, that just doesn’t cut it and it draws a lot of attention to you.”

Such was the case in last year’s Munster U21 final when Denis Ring’s Cork pummeled Tipp by 13 points. From that Tipperary team, five players — Craig Morgan, Paddy Cadell, Jake Morris, Jerome Cahill, and Darragh Woods — featured in the recent All-Ireland U20 semi-final annihilation of Wexford.

“I made it very clear after that match (2018 Munster final defeat) that that was the first time that particular group of players had failed on me and the management team that bad. To this day, I’ll never be able to put my finger on why. But as results later showed, it was a blip in the system.

“There’s always the risk of something like that happening again. That’s one thing — you can never drop your guard because no matter how well you may think you’re going, there is a likelihood of something like that happening again, and especially against Cork who have quality and can do that to you.

“Cork looked like a team on a mission in the semi-final against Kilkenny. They really threw everything at it. Even though we weren’t in the final at that stage, I’d say they had one eye on Tipperary and getting a second chance for redemption.”

The aforementioned Morris, Cahill, and Cadell were members of the victorious senior panel, but the U20 manager felt no need to send them a text on Sunday night to remind them not to overdo the celebrations.

“They really are mature fellas for their age so there’d be no worries with these guys in terms of getting carried away or overindulging. I saw pictures of the three boys out on the hospital visit with the cup on Monday. They looked really fresh and fulfilled their duties very well so I’m very proud of them.”

Cahill doesn’t sense any pressure on his group to replicate the feat of 2010 where Tipp landed the U21 crown a week after reacquainting themselves with Liam MacCarthy.

“The thing is it takes a bit of doing to create it and have it fulfilled, that dream, but we’ll try everything we can to do it. It’s going to be a big ask.”

It seems an unnecessary message to have to impart to an inter-county team, but Tipperary U20 hurling manager Liam Cahill is blue in the face telling his players to fight and graft all the way to the last whistle.

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