Tipperary under-20s looking to make it an All-Ireland double
Liam Cahill’s side have been scoring goals for fun but now they face a tough Cork side
Tipperary manager Liam Cahill is hoping his side can make it an All-Ireland double on Sunday. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Settle down now. If anyone in Tipperary is looking for some calm after the still frenzied joy of Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling victory it might be Liam Cahill. There’s another game here to be won you know.
Six days after the senior team took Kilkenny apart in Croke Park, Cahill will take the Tipperary under-20 team to face Cork in the All-Ireland under-20 final at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. It’s a repeat of the 2018 final – the last in the under-21 grade before coming down a year – when a late goal won it for Tipperary, and goals, one must suspect, will have a say on Saturday evening too.
Tipperary have already scored 14 of them in their three games to get to the final, including eight against Wexford in the semi-final, winning 8-16 to 1-15. Cahill also has three senior panellists to play with, including Jake Morris, who scored the stoppage time goal for Tipperary in July’s Munster final that clinched the win and came on for the seniors at Croke Park last Sunday, scoring a point.
Jerome Cahill, another under-20 forward, was an unused sub last Sunday and between the duo they scored 3-6 against Wexford, 3-5 of which came from play. Paddy Cadell has also been serving both panels and part of the challenge for Cahill is to ensure those three at least stay calm.
“It’s a six day turnaround, so it’s going to be tough on them,” he said, “but we have total confidence in the players, the three guys also involved with us, because they really are top class, mature players.
“Plans had to be put in place, and we had that done behind the scenes, just to make sure that they guys can be kept a fresh as they can. We only get them back for the matches, really, and in our case, Liam Sheedy has sent those lads back in absolute top condition. So you don’t have to worry about that, they come back ready to go.”
Sunday’s 14-point senior win over Kilkenny brings some other pressure in the form of expectation. Tipperary last won the under-21/senior double in 2010, when it just so happened that Liam Sheedy was last in charge of the seniors.
Cork however will be similarly keen to take their chance, beating Tipperary in the 2018 Munster final, before losing the subsequent final, and this year’s Munster final. Cork are also desperate to get their hands back a title last won in 21 years ago, in 1998.
For Cahill, goals may win matches, and you can’t hold back either when goal chances arise.
“With goal chances, when they come, you can’t run across the field and tell a young fella you can’t score a goal,” he said. “When the opportunity arises, it’s brilliant to see from our perspective that they have that ruthlessness, to go ahead and take it, and that’s what we take about in training.
“I don’t believe there will be eight goal chances in an All-Ireland final, but if there’s one, we’ll have to be able to take it. But that does bring its own pressure, yeah, because for the ordinary GAA person out there, all they see is the score, and are they going to do that again. The All-Ireland final is a totally different situation, and they know that won’t happen again too lightly.”
Last year’s final was the first all-Munster final, which Tipperary won on a score-line of 3-13 to 1-16 after a dramatic finish. Cahill has already guided the Tipperary minors to All-Ireland success in 2016 and the under-21s to the title in 2018.
Saturday’s meeting will also mark the fourth final between Tipp and Cork in the last two seasons; two Munster finals and two All-Ireland deciders; Cork won the 2018 Munster final, and that’s still fresh enough to keep Cahill perfectly calm.
“To this day, I’ll never be able to put my finger on why. But as it turned out later on, as results showed, it was a blip in the system. Look, that’s a very sobering thought, there’s always the risk of something like that happening again. That’s one thing, you can never drop your guard because no matter how well you may think you’re going, the possibility of something like that happening again, and especially against Cork who have quality and can do that to you, is always there.”
Only in last year’s All-Ireland decider and this year’s provincial final, it was late Tipp goals that stole victories on both occasions. Being without Morris, Cahill and Cadell for much of the training week hasn’t impacted on his preparations.
“All the groups I’ve had to date, at underage, they all know each other. In my time you might only meet a player for a couple of weeks, but these guys are in college together, they’ve been together since minor, and that makes it that little bit easier.
“I think the grade going back to under-20 has some disadvantages, but we’ve only three players, but if it had stayed at under-21, we’ve have had maybe 10, 12 players inside with the seniors as well, and that would make it very, very difficult. And I’m not sure Tipperary would be here now, if that was the case, not having that chance to work together.”
However Cahill is against the idea of merging the minor (under-17) and under-21 into a new under-19 grade: “I would be concerned about that, an under-19 not being ready to step up to senior. Unless you’re one of the elite, like a Kyle Hayes of Jake Morris, and come through quickly, the majority of players are now 22, 23 before they step up, and that can be too long to leave these guys out there, and possibly lose some potential.”
Football, incidentally, doesn’t allow the crossover between under-20 and senior, unless the senior team has excited the championship. Throw-in on Saturday evening is at 6pm (live on TG4).
Tipperary’s path to the final Under-20 Munster Championship – Semi-final: Tipperary 3-23 Waterford 0-10. Final: Tipperary 3-15 Cork 2-17. All-Ireland semi-final: Tipperary 8-16 Wexford 1-15. Cork’s path to the final Under-20 Munster Championship – Semi-final: Cork 0-24 Clare 0-15. Final: Cork 2-17 Tipperary 3-15. All-Ireland semi-final: Cork 1-16 Kilkenny 0-13.