Cahill braced for biggest challenge as Thurles bid to dethrone St Kieran's
The seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of talent at St Kieran's College go in search of their 20th Croke Cup - but for Thurles CBS, it is a chance to win just their second ever title.
The Kilkenny school, who will defend their title at Semple Stadium this afternoon (5.0), can include nine players who were involved in last year's successful panel.
CBS manager Niall Cahill knows the scale of the task that lies ahead but he is relishing the opportunity of going up against the Kilkenny nursery.
"It's a huge challenge but any time you come up against St Kieran's College, it's the biggest challenge you can come across in schools hurling," said Cahill.
"They're the benchmark for everyone else. You know that if you're going to go anywhere in schools hurling, you're not going to win any cup without coming across and beating Kieran's."
As well as being able to call upon plenty of experience from last year's side, Kieran's manager Liam Smith has the luxury of also including 10 players from the Kilkenny All-Ireland winning minor team.
Kieran's were given a brief scare against Presentation College Athenry in the semi-final but two late points ensured the holders stayed on course to retain the cup. Their captain Sean Morrissey and vice-captain Liam Blanchfield both already have medals in their pocket this season after starring for Bennettsbridge in February's All-Ireland Junior Club Hurling Final.
Blanchfield is a major goal threat and any hopes of CBS causing an upset will be dependant on keeping the 6ft 2in forward quiet.
"It's what you set your stall out for at the start of the year and you know that if you're playing Kieran's, it's always going to be a good year in some ways - at least you know you're at the business end of things," added Cahill.
"Whether you can beat them or not is a very, very difficult task."
The Harty Cup champions are bidding to return to the top table for the first time since their success in 2009 - but standing in their way is a school who thrive on the big occasion.