Manager Liam Cahill is joined on the Tipperary under-21 hurling management team by John Sheedy, Seán Corbett, TJ Ryan and coach Michael Bevans.
The Bord Gais Energy Munster U-21 hurling final in Pairc Ui Chaoimh is expected to be a real humdinger.
Tipperary's under-21 hurlers travel into the lion's den tomorrow evening (Wednesday, July 4th) for the Bord Gais Energy Munster final against rivals Cork for what manager Liam Cahill describes as being “a massive test of character” for his charges.
Pairc Ui Chaoimh may well be an unfamiliar hunting ground for the majority of this under-21 squad, but the Tipperary management team decided not to avail of the chance to have a runout in the new stadium ahead of the clash. It would have been unwise, they felt, to put the Tipp players into a bus in the heat and humidity of the last few days to have a quick runaround and they will instead be in “The Park” in plenty of time to familiarise themseves with its geography.
He does not wish to see his side conceding advantage at the start of the game and feels that they must be tuned in from the off and not be in awe of the impressive surrounds.
“The start will be vital because we are going into the lion's den and their backyard. The majority of our players have never played in Pairc Ui Chaoimh and we decided not to take a walkout down there because we didn't want to put the players into a bus for a couple of hours in the heat and humidity.
Mark Kehoe is one of Tipperary's big game players.
“We are taking our chances in that respect,” Tipperary under-21 manager Liam Cahill explained.
“We have to give ourselves a chance by starting well because any team that goes to Cork and ends up chasing the game usually ends up on the wrong side of the result,” Liam Cahill told The Tipperary Star this week.Declaring a clean bill of health ahead of the final, Liam spoke at length about the preparations for the game and the need to taper training as a result of the intense heat.
This has resulted in a programme being devised to ensure that the tempo of the sessions remained at match level, but the length of time spent on the field was reduced.
“We are usually worrying about flooding on a field more so than heat. It has been different for everybody this year, but hydration has been massive on our agenda for the last week and you are going to have to be really well-hydrated and fully fuelled for the game. This game will be really fast - regardless of the weather we have had,” Liam Cahill added.
“Both teams play a fast brand of hurling and a variety of styles as well so it augurs well for a great game. It takes a bit of work, but Michael Bevans is a big believer in keeping the intensity, but maybe limiting the time we are at it in training. We have reduced that and concentrated on recovery.
“The thing is, there will be no place to hide on Wednesday evening with the temperatures in the twenties. It will be a case of seeing who can go the distance and who takes their chances,” Liam Cahill said.But are Tipperary satisfied as they travel south this evening that their preparations have gone to plan?
“Yeah, we are happy with the progress and have had good quality challenge games. They have given us a great idea of the strength and depth of our options. We know a lot of these panel players very well for the last few years and it is just a case of making sure that you have nobody left behind. That was our objective starting out,” the Ballingarry man explained.
“We learn as we go along - you do that as a player and as a management team. Our coach Michael Bevans is very adamant that you learn every day you go out. Our team has arrived at where it is at, but that's not to say that it won't change again before the year is out. It will change a bit again for Wednesday night because of the type of team we are playing against and our panel will change as well.
“That's the idea of having a panel and the joy of having players who can give you different elements,” he said.This is a very highly-rated Cork side with quite a few seniors who captured the Munster title on Sunday in their ranks. But that can work against a team as well and Tipperary will be hoping to capitalise on their own freshness whereas Cork might be slightly sluggish as they shake off the exertions of last Sunday in Semple Stadium.
“Cork have an exceptionally good team. Three years ago this was deemed as the greatest minor team ever to come out of Cork and they picked up a few injuries and were beaten by Limerick and out of the championship. But their quality has come through with eight or nine on the senior panel now. The depth of quality they have is exceptional, but we have quality too and we are going to worry about ourselves and make sure that we can be the best that we can be on the night.”Tipperary got very close to that stage against Limerick in the semi-final and supporters left Semple Stadium with a real spring in their step. They saw the team play with real dash and cut and were thrilled to note the energy levels they displayed throughout the field.
“Yeah, the general feeling was that there was a lot to like about us, but I was a little concerned about losing shape in the last ten minutes. A few players forgot to track back and going down to play Cork, and the type of game they play, they will hurt us more than Limerick do if we fall into the same trap. Our key players in the key areas will have to put in a big shift.
“Cork feel they have a real, real chance with this team, but what more can a young player want than to go down there and test themselves and see what it is all about and what is coming down the tracks at senior level. It will be a brilliant gauge to see who will be able to grasp the nettle and train on,”manager Liam Cahill said.Liam Cahill has watched his side improve immeasurably over the last few weeks and he is sure that there is better to come as well.
The “marginal gains” he speaks of are what can take Tipperary over the winning line this evening and he is hoping that his men can take Cork out of their comfort zone.
“Silverware is everything. You start out at the beginning of the year to win. That's the mentality and that's what we want to do - to win the Munster final.
“We haven't won one since 2010 so they are not something that come around too often. If we can win on Wednesday night it will give us great confidence going into the last four again. That's what its all about,” Liam Cahill said.
“This is a prestigious competition and I always looked forward to it as a player eventhough we didn't have great luck. It is a springboard to the senior grade and that has been very evident with Clare and Limerick and Kilkenny in recent times,” he said.
Tipperary supporters are encouraged to get along and cheer on the Tipp lads this evening if at all possible - Cork, having won the senior final on Sunday last, will have their tails in the air and will be smelling blood.
But Tipp have the ability to make teams bleed and they will be out to do just that come throw-in this evening.