Although many would have ducked the press Ballingarry’s Liam Cahill had the guts to face the media in the wake of Tipperary’s fourteen-point defeat to Clare in the Electric Ireland Munster minor hurling championship.
“It was a very tough night,” Liam Cahill told the Tipperary Star.
“I suppose up to half-time, before the first sending off, we looked to be competitive anyway. We seemed to lose our way after the first sending off. You would have different reactions with different players and mid-way through the second half with the extra man we lost our shape and Clare started coming at us in droves. The energy kind of sapped out of us from there,” Liam Cahill explained.
Tommy Nolan was shown a straight red card after a careless challenge saw the Drom & Inch man connect with the head of Clare goalkeeper Jason Loughnane.
“From where I was it looked to be a soft enough red card,” Liam Cahill said.
“They are the breaks you get. We knew coming to Ennis tonight that it was going to be very, very difficult. When you are playing Clare in their home patch you have to work twice as hard to get the breaks and you have to be twice as good to come out of here. That’s what happens and that’s hurling.”
Finishing with just twelve players on the field was not part of the plan.
“We are very, very disappointed. I am very disappointed with the performance and with the way that we tapered off there near the end to be honest. I was a little bit worried about our discipline there near the end - I was very disappointed with that as well. That’s not what we encouraged as a management team and that’s not what we set out to do - I can assure you of that. It was just misfortunate on everybody on the night and we just have to take whatever criticism comes with it and work on it and improve and move on,” Liam Cahill added.
Liam Cahill spoke to his players at length in the dressing room after the game - obviously, the former Tipperary star was making a determined effort to lift the spirits of the group.
“All I can say to them is that they now know what level they have to be at,” Liam Cahill explained.
“Inter-county hurling is getting more competitive every year. There is a standard set in Tipperary that you have to meet and the Tipperary people are entitled, once they pay their money coming in the gate, to see their team getting results. They (the players) know that they fell short of the line tonight. They know that. There is no point in us beating ourselves up about it. They have to go away and come back, please God, in three years’ time as under-21s and show that they have learned from their mistakes.
“There is about seven or eight of the team underage again for next year. There is a nucleus of a nice panel there again for next year, but we were questioned in a lot of areas of our play tonight that we had no answers to. I know twelve months is not a long time in hurling, but this particular group will need the twelve months to develop the areas that they need to work on. That’s for sure,” Liam Cahill concluded.
The responsibility for this defeat should not rest solely at the feet of the minor management team led by Liam Cahill and which also featured selectors Seán Corbett (Durlas Óg), TJ Ryan (Clonoulty-Rossmore) and John Sheedy (Portroe). Instead, now is the time to face the questions posed by this defeat.
Those around the county, who know their hurling, will be looking for a progressive reaction from the County Board. It is plain to see that the Tipperary coaching structure has failed this group of players.
The thing about humiliation is that it creates the perfect circumstances for revolution - instead of wringing our hands at the margin of this defeat why not do something about it?
If you can recognise that there is a problem you are already half way to solving it.