Liam Cahill hurled for three years as a Tipperary minor.
Munster champions in his first season on the panel in 1993, there was a concerted push for All-Ireland glory the following summer.
In the end, the Premier boys didn’t even make it to Munster final afternoon.
Captain in 1995, Cahill’s team fell to Waterford in the semi-final at Fermoy — Ken McGrath, Dan Shanahan and Dave Bennett steering the Déise to victory.
Three years done and dusted. One medal. Chapter closed.
Driven by the lack of success enjoyed during his first stint in the blue and gold, Cahill refused to allow himself be defined as a ‘three-year minor’.
Under Fr Tom Fogarty, he was drafted into the senior set-up in the winter of ’95, finishing the ’96 campaign as the right corner-forward All Star recipient.
Nine members of his Tipperary minor hurling squad today take their first steps towards attempting a unique All-Ireland double, returning to GAA headquarters on September 20 for the football final against Kerry.
For Tommy Nolan, Alan Tynan, Brian McGrath, Emmet Moloney and Stephen Quirke, starters on both teams, history beckons.
Cahill’s job is to ensure the bigger picture is not lost on this talented bunch. He’s preaching from experience.
“Win or lose on Sunday, it is all part of players’ development and progression. That is all it is. If we win, all it will be is a minor All-Ireland,” the Tipperary boss said.
“The key will be whether these boys train on or not. The experience they gain from playing in Croke Park, from winning in Croke Park and from winning a Munster title, when you give that to a young fella of 18 years of age, it can only stand him in good stead.
“He must want to go forward, though. He must want to progress. These lads could be found out as they move up. They could excel. We don’t know how they will go. Reaching a minor final is a good barometer to find where they are at a point in time. There is no guarantee they will go on to become seniors, but you have to give yourself a chance.”
To be simply discussing an All-Ireland final enthuses Cahill, his Premier outfit poorly thought of at the outset of the year.
The expectation was that Cork and Limerick would challenge for provincial honours.
“The following that came to see Tipperary against Waterford in the first round of the Munster championship last April were not bowled over by what they saw and the feeling around the place was that it was a relatively average minor team. We didn’t do anything extra to improve that or change opinions during the Clare game.
“It was only from winning a tight Munster final that gave people a bit more belief with this team. It has increased a small bit since then. They are an improving side, an honest bunch of fellas.”
Balanced also. Nine scorers they had in their 2-17 to 1-15 semi-final victory over Dublin and in their Munster final win.
“We would have no real marquee player like Tipperary teams would have had in the past. It is all built around our work-rate.
“ We have a good number of lads who can shoot from out the field which we showcased in the closing stages of the Dublin game when they packed their defence with bodies. We had no problem finding the target from 50 metres and beyond.
“Since then the minor footballers had their semi-final win and that just makes everything easier, though people might think it would make preparations harder.
“We had the footballers in the ice baths on Monday evening, we got them a masseur too and they were in great form. Winning is a bug and it is contagious.
“You would hope that it would rub off on everyone and Charlie McGeever rightly said in his interview after the game last Sunday that both panels are feeding off one another and that is healthy.
“It is so much easier to get them to refocus the mind when they come out of a win.”
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