Liam Cahill: When you see the hits, the ferocity...it's incredible

Waterford boss says reaching All-Ireland final was a realistic goal this season
Liam Cahill: When you see the hits, the ferocity...it's incredible

BREAKAWAY: Waterford's Darragh Lyons breaks free of the pressure during Saturday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final win over neighbours Kilkenny at Croke Park. 

One man was happy Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final didn’t have a crowd in attendance.

Waterford were seven down to Kilkenny at the break and Deise manager Liam Cahill, tongue in cheek, said he “was happy enough at half-time there was no crowd”.

“I'm sure I'd have got plenty advice going down the tunnel.

“It's strange. But I think it's not taking from the intensity on the field. You can see that yourselves. I don't know if the people at home get a proper grasp of it when watching on television but when you're there on the line and you see the hits and the ferocity, it's incredible.”

Waterford’s stirring second-half comeback saw them storm into the All-Ireland final. What made the difference?

“It's a combination of things to be fair. I think we did quite well to freshen it up. We probably could have freshened it a little bit earlier.

“We seemed to be going reasonably well, always afraid to tweak it too much when the momentum is with you but I thought young Iarlaith Daly gave us great impetus when he came on for a young fella of 19, 20 years of age.

“(Indeed), any of the subs that came on, Darragh Lyons in particular. We have good players in Waterford that are putting up their hand every week to come in.

“It’s great for me as a manager that they have that energy to come in and help lads that have been flat out for the last three weeks.” 

One of those lads was Stephen Bennett.

“He's having a marvellous year, isn't he? He's a really good forward. I've said it before, he always was a good forward, it's just that he's now delivering consistently. He's a massive player. He makes mistakes but I don't think he's beating himself up as much as he used to about making mistakes. He's always concentrating on the next ball.

“Thrilled for him that he's eventually fulfilling his potential that he's showed for so many years.” 

MATCH STATS: How the sides compared in Saturday's thrilling All-Ireland semi final.
MATCH STATS: How the sides compared in Saturday's thrilling All-Ireland semi final.

Cahill paid tribute to his strength and conditioning team for his side’s fitness: “Tommy Ryan, our S&C man is doing tremendous work with these fellas. Joey O'Brien as well there in the background from an S&C perspective and I've Martin Bennett who does a lot for our speed work.” 

Cahill added that it had been “a realistic goal” for the team to reach an All-Ireland final.

“I think it was a realistic goal if you were setting targets at the start of the year it was a realistic goal, to look to get to a final.

“I don’t mean to sound as though we were confident or arrogant about it, but we did feel if we looked after ourselves and trained well that we’d have a chance if we got a bit of luck along the way.

“We’re there and we’ll take it now and we’ll look forward to the final.” 

He agreed that the victory would give Waterford confidence going forward: “Any team that wins an All-Ireland, they usually have to beat Kilkenny along the way, so it’s great.

“Kilkenny are a massive force in hurling and always have been, they’re always the benchmark, the team to beat, so it would have to give us extra confidence, so it’s great.

“But there are so many aspects of our play today that we’ll need to look at. I can’t emphasise that enough. When we look back at it over the rest of the week there’ll be a lot of cringe moments there - if those happen in two weeks’ time they’ll cost us.” 

The Tipperary native said Shane Fives may come into the reckoning for the All-Ireland final if he can overcome a quad injury.

“We’ll probably have a match among ourselves next Sunday and that’ll be interesting, I can tell you that. We’ll have people putting their hand up for the 26, so that’ll be an interesting evening to be at training.”

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