On Sunday next Tipp minor hurlers will be hoping to get a perfect day for the county off to a great start with a win over Limerick in the curtain-raiser at Semple Stadium.
To do so the Premier County, hoping to win their first provincial title since 2012, will have to overcome a very determined Limerick outfit, attempting to complete a first-ever three-in-a-row of minor titles in Munster.
In a big upset to the formbook the Shannonsiders who were beaten by Cork by nine points in the opening round of the championship in April flipped the result at the second attempt on Thursday last when winning by 1-14 to 0-14 at the Gaelic Grounds. Obviously now they are on a roll with a win over Waterford sandwiched in between the two games with Cork. It means Sunday’s final against Tipperary will be their fourth competitive outing of this campaign.
Tipperary manager Liam Cahill was in Limerick on Thursday night last for the semi-final between Limerick and Cork and came away impressed by the Shannonsiders win, especially with their dogged determination and never-say-die attitude.
“Some might say that Cork threw it away with 17 wides, but I felt in the end Limerick deserved to get something out of it. They fought tooth-and-nail and particularly in the last 10 minutes when they threw themselves at everything and held on,” said the former Ballingarry and Thurles Sarsfields player.
“I see the final as being very much a 50-50 game now. Limerick are strong in areas that we are strong in. We will have to match them in everything if we hope to come out on top. They like to play the game at speed, they play a high intensity big pressure type of game and they are very much in-your-face all the time. We will simply have to match that intensity on the day.
“Tipp will have to hurl exceptionally well in the final, a lot better than we hurled against Waterford the first day and against Clare in the semi-final. They are, as you would expect, a well-oiled side under Anthony Daly. He has instilled in them a fierce belief and they appear never to give up,” added Cahill, an All-Star winner at right corner forward for Tipperary in 1996.
Looking back at his side’s two performances against Waterford (1-14 to 0-16) and Clare (1-15 to 1-11) which were 11 weeks apart, the team manager had this to say.
“The big thing for us all year has been consistency in games, you could say consistency has been our achilles heel. We have put together some fine patches of hurling in both games but we need more consistency and we certainly need to finish games better (Tipp allowed Clare a run on them towards the end of the semi-final in Thurles). At times we look like we have the ability to be a fine side but we leave things hanging for the opposition to come back at us. We can’t allow that against Limerick. We will have to push ourselves more and to kill off games,” added Cahill, now in his second year at the wheel of the Tipp minor ship.
“Team captain Stephen Quirke is a big loss for us, there is no doubt. Stephen is a leader, a key man, a go-to man for many of our puck-outs. We have to plan for Sunday without him. But that is what a panel is for. We think we have assembled the 30 or so best minors in the county. And Sunday will provide an opportunity for someone else to show what they can do.
“We have nine players in total involved in both panels for Tipperary - minor football and minor hurling - and I suppose the more they play the greater the likelihood of injury for any player. Unfortunately Stephen picked up an injury which rules him out at the moment. We will have five or six of the hurlers involved in the football game on Sunday (v Kerry in Killarney) and fingers crossed they will all come through and be available to us for Limerick,” said Cahill.
Tipp will be hoping that players such as midfielders Darragh Carey and Alan Tynan can do well against Limerick in the centre of the field. Against Clare James Quigley and Brian McGrath were leaders in defence , while in the forwards David Gleeson showed big potential. All these and more will have to up their game further against Limerick if Tipp are to triumph.
Team manager Liam Cahill concluded by appealing to the Tipperary hurling public to get behind his side.
“I would appeal to people to get in early and genuine hurling people should get in to see what are in effect is the next generation of Tipperary hurlers. Give these young lads the vital experience of playing before thousands of fans in Semple Stadium. The crowd should make themselves the 16th man, so to speak, and help the minors get over the line,” he concluded.