Friday 27 April 2018

Glory surge vindicates Cahill's dual star decision

Tipperary 1-21 Limerick 0-17 All-Ireland MHC Final

Tipperary minor players celebrate with the cup Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tipperary minor players celebrate with the cup Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Liam Cahill demanded total commitment to the hurling cause after gut-wrenching final defeats in both codes last year, and his stance was fully vindicated.

After knocking seven goals past Galway in the semi-final, the Premier were always going to struggle to scale those heights but they were the better side throughout.

Colin English and Jake Morris were particularly prominent in attack but they had to overcome stubborn resistance from a Limerick side which banished memories of their Munster final mauling.

And for Cahill it was sweet redemption.

"It was unbelievable heartbreak last year because people said 'you did superbly well bringing an average team to an All-Ireland final' - last year's team wasn't average," he said.

"But they made themselves average by wanting to play everything. And that's why the two buses here at minor grade left down the N7 with no silverware - they were burnt out from everything.

"I've no issue with the dual game in Tipperary once they're not drawing from the same pot to fuel codes, it's not possible. It's been tried, it's been tested, it's failed and today is evidence of that."

Interestingly, it was English, who chose football at the outset of the year and only rejoined after the footballers' interest was over, who delivered four telling blows, bursting through the Treaty defence with a raw athleticism.

His inclusion was a no-brainer for Cahill: "When the footballers exited it was open season.

"I make no apologies for it. I had my critics in the local media in particular - I was branded as being dishonest and a hypocrite and naive, and it hurt at the time.

"I felt what I had to do was right, it was right for the players involved, it was right for everybody. We had to do what we had to do and thankfully it worked out."

Stung by a 17-point defeat at the hands of Tipp in mid-July, Pat Donnelly's Limerick utilised a sweeper from the off, with Ciarán O'Connor mopping up loose ball.

They were over-reliant on Brian Ryan, however, and had it not been for Tipp's inaccuracy in attack, the game could have been put to bed by half-time.

Instead Limerick got a foothold and trailed by the minimum at the break, 0-9 to 0-8, but Tipp were sharp out of the blocks on the resumption, with Morris supplying the only goal of the game - an expert finish.

Morris was lucky to stay on the field in the immediate aftermath, though, as he appeared to strike Josh Adams, but Wicklow referee John Keenan took no action and Donnelly admitted it didn't alter the end result.

Limerick cut the gap to three on two occasions but lacked the killer punch in attack, with Ryan the only player to score more than once, whereas Tipp had an array of attacking firepower.

Donnelly praised his side brave display, saying: "Sometimes you have to put your hands up and say you were beaten by a better team. They're an excellent side, they have hurlers you know will go on and play senior hurling with Tipp."

One of those future stars is outstanding Tipp skipper Brian McGrath, who lifted the Irish Press Cup before taking his seat in the stand to watch older brothers Noel and John prevail in the senior decider on a truly special family day.

SCORERS - Tipperary - J Morris 1-3, L Fairbrother 0-5 (4fs), C English 0-4, S Neville 0-3, B McGrath (1f, 1 '65'), M Kehoe 0-2 each, G Browne and D Walsh 0-1 each. Limerick - B Ryan 0-11 (9fs), D Carroll, C Boylan, C O'Connor, K Hayes, D Woulfe, P O'Brien 0-1 each.

TIPPERARY - C Barrett; J Cahill, M Whelan, T Murphy; B McGrath, K O'Dwyer, C Flanagan; P Cadell, G Browne; R Doody, J Morris, C English; L Fairbrother, M Kehoe, C Darcy. Subs: S Neville for Doody (27), D Golden-O'Mahony for Carroll (37), D Walsh for C Darcy (42), D Quirke for C Flanagan (51), C Stakelum for Browne (62).

LIMERICK - M O'Kelly; B Nash, C Nicholas, R Connolly; J Boylan, J Adams, F Hourigan; C O'Connor, D Carroll; M O'Grady, A Barrett, B Ryan; C Boylan, K Hayes, C Magner-Flynn. Subs: P O'Brien for Magner-Flynn (34), G Dunne for Murphy (37), D Woulfe for Barrett (42), M Bourke for Adams (45), C O'Grady for M O'Grady (54).

REF - J Keenan (Wicklow)

Irish Independent

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