Tipperary minor manager Liam Cahill believes some former stars have “failed” their county by refusing to get involved in the coaching of underage teams.
Cahill approached a number of ex-county players for assistance after taking over as minor boss and was taken aback when his advances were rejected.
Former All-Star forward Cahill endured a difficult first season in charge (2014) as Tipperary were knocked out of the Munster championship by Clare and finished with 12 players in Ennis.
But the straight-talking Ballingarry native absorbed some salient lessons and this year’s crop won the Munster title before advancing to Sunday’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland final against Galway at Croke Park.
Cahill said: “The bottom line is that when I was given this job a year and-a-half ago, when I looked for past county players to come on board a lot of them weren’t prepared to grasp the nettle.
“I felt, and we said it when we sat down after our defeat in Ennis and we discussed it as a development committee with the board, that our past players in this county had failed us to an extent, bar the few that stepped up.
“You have Declan Fanning and Paul Curran taking on coaching roles (at senior level).
“But again that’s at a higher spectrum and I feel that the past players have failed us at the lower spectrum, at U14, U15 and U16, the particular areas where they’re needed.
“I was very disappointed last year when I approached several players. They either had no interest or it intimidated them or they felt that they weren’t competent enough.
“And these were fellows who had got so much from Tipperary hurling and who weren’t prepared to put their heads on the block and give something back.”
Cahill revealed that preparations for 2015 began three weeks after the Ennis defeat. Talks began with then county board chairman Sean Nugent, who then liaised with games development officers in the county before a plan was put in place to improve standards.
Cahill added: “We had to see what we could do in the short term to improve the situation and thankfully to date it seems to be working.
“The profile of underage hurling is back up to where it needs to be to get the results required to keep the conveyor belt coming.
“A little over 12 months ago this particular set-up and this grade had been on a real downer after two very poor performances against Limerick and Clare. So it’s great to be back up the ladder and into an All-Ireland final.
“A lot of work and a lot of things had to change to get us to where we are today.
“From our own perspective as a management team and in conjunction with the county board, more focus had to be put on underage hurling in the county as quickly as possible.
“The wagons were circling and we were trying to get this Ash (Advanced School of Hurling) programme up and running as quickly and as progressively as possible.
“We just completed year two of it, which is obviously increasing the focus and awareness of these young men as well as to what’s required to play minor hurling for Tipperary.”
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