Liam Cahill insists he has no regrets about turning his back on his native county to remain in charge of the Waterford senior hurlers.
Cahill admitted that he spoke to Tipperary top brass about succeeding Liam Sheedy, but ultimately felt that he couldn’t turn his back on the Déise squad.
Speaking on WLR’s Lár Na Páirce show Friday night, Cahill also revealed that his decision has resulted in some mixed reactions in Tipperary, adding that “ultimately, time will be the judge of whether this decision was right or not”.
However, the Waterford manager is convinced that there is more to come from his charges.
“I feel with this group of players that their potential hasn’t fully bottomed out yet. I hope that there’s a little bit more to find in these boys.
They have given us everything over the last two years. They were a very hard bunch of players to walk away from.
The Ballingarry man admitted that he held talks with the Tipperary County Board after Liam Sheedy departed last month.
“That discussion was in private and that’s where it will always remain with me. Obviously, the rumour mill for a role of the magnitude of the Tipperary senior hurling manager can gather legs.
“I can genuinely say that it wasn’t anything that the Tipp County Board did or didn’t say, or it wasn’t that anything that Liam Cahill or Mikey Bevans did or didn’t say.
“Ultimately, it was the draw back to the Waterford players, the Waterford senior hurlers, that really nailed down our decision.
“Yes, we were torn between two groups of players but, for me, the rapport we have built up with the Waterford senior hurlers over the past two years is something Mikey and I couldn’t walk away from.”
The local reaction in the Premier County has been mixed.
“As I said in my statement, it would please some and not others, and that’s exactly how it has been.
“For me, the ultimate easy thing to do was to say ‘yes’ to Tipperary, 100%. The desire to manage your own county is always there.
“To be as honest as I can, I’m not the first Tipperary man to say no to the Tipperary senior hurling job. Maybe people aren’t aware of that. I know for certain that a lot more high-profile names and a lot bigger names than me in Tipperary have been asked to take on Tipperary in the past and said no.
“It didn’t seem to create the same disappointment in Tipperary people. I won’t say it bothers me but people should be aware of that.
People say that the Tipp job mightn’t come around again and I mightn’t be asked, and that’s OK in my headspace. If that’s not to be, it’s not to be.
“It won’t ever stop me from putting my hand up to get involved in Tipperary Games Development or underage hurling in Tipperary in the future. I don’t do those grudge matches, if you want to call it that.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been at a funeral or two over the last couple of weeks, and I’ve met a lot of people that have wished me luck as well.
“A lot of local club people here have expressed their good wishes in continuing in the role in Waterford. I’ve met one or two that have expressed their disappointment, but they have expressed it in a respectful way and they’re entitled to do that.”
Cahill has been impressed by the attitude of the Déise players since he took over in the winter of 2019.
“Ultimately, the respect they gave us from day one. We made difficult decisions when we started out and, through the two years we worked together, these players, they have treated myself, Mikey Bevans, Stephen Frampton, Tom Feeney, and Stephen Molumphy, and all the backroom team, with the upmost respect.
“That’s something that you don’t come across too often. There’s usually, in a team environment, one or two that will challenge you — and not challenge you for the right reasons. I know you’re not going to keep 35 or 36 players happy all the time, but these players love feedback and they love trying to improve. As I said, that’s something that you don’t get too often in a set-up across the board.”
After losing to Limerick in an All-Ireland final and semi-final, Cahill’s ambition is to lift a trophy with Waterford in 2022.
“If our term finishes in Waterford without silverware, it will be classed a failure. That’s where I believe these players are capable of delivering. I know pundits in certain areas and fellas with big opinions will think that this Waterford team aren’t capable of dining at the top table.
“I think we’re up there, we’re up there in the top three or four teams in the country. It’s like anything, you have to keep knocking on the door to break through. That’s exactly what we’re going to do with these players.
“Silverware will be the gauge. This year is a big, big year for these players. It’s a big year for me and the management team. Ultimately, there’ll be no stone left unturned to make sure that silverware is delivered this year of some sort.”