LIAM CAHILL COULD have been facing a different Tipperary hurling scenario this week.
Twelve months ago he was a leading contender to be installed as the county’s senior supremo, his candidacy bolstered by the manner in which he steered Tipperary’s U21 team to an impressive All-Ireland triumph in late August.
But the senior appointment saw Liam Sheedy ratified for a second spell and he capped a glorious return last Sunday in Croke Park.
For Cahill there is no sense of regret. He is taking another Tipperary team into All-Ireland final combat next Saturday when the U20 side take to the field in the Gaelic Grounds.
And the decision to entrust Sheedy with the senior managerial reins was one Cahill always viewed as ‘a no-brainer’.
“It was all fairly helter skelter after the U21 All-Ireland. Michael Ryan had stepped aside and obviously names were going to be bandied about. At the time it wasn’t the be all and end all, but when you did enter the process you’d like to maybe have the success of being appointed.
“Myself and Mikey (Bevans), in particular who was part of my intentions going forward, we knew Liam Sheedy was in the mix. It was a no brainer for everybody involved and it has (been) proven right.
“He was the right man at the right time with the ample experience required for a team that was in a situation needing to kick on. He had the expertise of having worked with some of these older players before so the fit was just right.
“Hats off to everybody, especially to Liam, his management team, all the players involved and to the county board and everybody associated with the appointment. It was work well done.”
Liam Sheedy celebrates Tipperary’s victory with Seamus Callanan.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Cahill is well-placed to assess the current Tipperary senior management team, having soldiered in his playing days alongside Sheedy and selector Tommy Dunne.
“Tommy Dunne and Liam Sheedy always set incredible standards as players. Tommy was just a complete winner as well as Liam too.
“Liam’s inter-county career mightn’t have been as decorated as Tommy’s, but they were both very passionate, great motivators and great men to put their own game at risk for the benefit of others. Really it didn’t matter what number jerseys they had on their backs when they were playing.
“Once they were part of a Tipperary squad they were in it 100%. You will see that in the squad at senior level, they are a large squad, but the unity seems to be absolutely incredible. It has all the hallmarks of them two men over it, I’m really thrilled for both of them.”
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Liam Sheedy and Tommy Dunne lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup with Darragh Egan and Eamon O’Shea.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Three of Cahill’s U20 charges – Jake Morris, Jerome Cahill and Paddy Cadell – were part of the victorious senior setup on Sunday.
Their underage manager left them alone to enjoy the celebrations before they return to training tonight and did not discourage any of his squad from travelling to Dublin for the game.
“We trained Saturday evening. I’d say the majority of them went to Dublin to support their team-mates and the county and were back down again on Sunday night.
“There has to be an element of trust in it and to be fair to these players, they put in so much effort and respect over the period of time we’ve been together now that we’d have no worries about them conducting themselves properly and making sure they’re doing the right thing and making the right choices between now and Saturday.
“I’ve left them (the senior panel members) alone. They had a big task ahead of them and we agreed there after the Wexford game that they would, win or lose, do whatever formalities had to be done and they’re back in with us tonight. By all accounts they’re fresh and eager and ready to go.”
With Tipperary engulfed in joyous celebrations after the senior success, Cahill does interpret it that there is extra pressure on his team to increase the All-Ireland U20 collection.
Instead the manager is seeking to embrace the positivity and the likely increase in support they will get at the Gaelic Grounds for the Bord Gáis Energy U20 decider against Cork.
“The place is fairly wild there at the moment. Great homecoming last night, big crowds out and great enthusiasm around the county. It’s brilliant.
“They did it and they did it in style. It was a brilliant team performance really. Thankfully now the senior championship is won and it’s given us great momentum and we’re hoping to come in on the back of that on Saturday.
“It is a big challenge to keep the focus on the job at hand. We’re back in tonight. We’re going to really just hone in around our performance and our game. Concentrate on what we have to do.
“I know the county is gone wild. Hopefully we have a big following here on Saturday. We as a management team and panel have to get our heads around what will be required. This is going to be a massive challenge on Saturday.”
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