Tipperary Supporters Club

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Co. Tipperary

Tipperary a different prospect this season with Premier hurling boss Liam Cahill keen to ‘unearth as many new players’ as possible

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Source: Irish Independent

It may only have been the first weekend in February, but this is already a totally different Tipperary under Liam Cahill after their Division 1 League campaign kicked off in great style against Laois last night.

Last year will go down as one of the worst seasons in the Premier's rich history after finishing bottom of the Munster SHC round-robin without a win in five games, but they look like a totally different animal now and a 20-point win painted that picture.

Gone are the aimless clearances into the full-forward line and a defence which cuts open easier than Moses went through the Red Sea. It's amazing how quickly Cahill has embedded his style on this squad and they excelled under the Semple Stadium lights.

Hard running is a pre-requisite with any squad which Cahill oversees and albeit against much inferior opposition, Tipp were sharp and hungry for work with overlaps created at will against the overpowered O'Moore men.

Much bigger tests await - starting with a trip to play old rivals Kilkenny next Sunday - but they built on their 13-point half-time lead to power away once again with the finish line in sight. Again, ruthlessness has always been a hallmark of Cahill.

"You look for that when the scoreboard is ticking on and the game is put to bed early, it does tend to allow a little bit of complacency to set in but I was happy with the way our guys applied themselves right through the game," Cahill said.

"That was a big positive for me that they continued to keep working to what we had spoken about before we came out. We've a healthy competition at the moment but we have lots of tests coming.

"Obviously a big one next weekend in Nowlan Park with our near neighbours in Kilkenny and then we go from there to take on Dublin and Waterford as the League progresses so plenty of big challenges coming and plenty of opportunities for new players to put their hands up."

New faces like Gearóid O'Connor 0-11 (7f, 0-1 '65), corner-back Johnny Ryan, and forwards Cian O'Dwyer and Sean Ryan (0-2 apiece) put their hands up as ones to watch with Cahill's sole League goal to "unearth as many new players as we can".

One player unearthed all the way back in 2008, however, is Séamus Callanan and the former Hurler of the Year is primed to reappear in blue and gold over the coming weeks after an injury-plagued 2022.

"Séamie is working behind the scenes with us in training, working really hard, and I’d expect to hopefully see Séamie over the next couple of weeks," Cahill said.

Patrick 'Bonner' Maher is already back with a bang and the Lorrha-Dorrha attacker hit the ground running with a typically robust display at full-forward while also having his hand in several scores, despite not hitting the mark himself.

"Bonner retains all his energy and enthusiasm that he had since the first day he joined. He's a big leader in our dressing room and he shows that on the field as well. We're very happy to get him back onto the field and get good quality hurling into him," Cahill added.

Impressive midfielder Conor Stakelum limped off with a hamstring injury that could see him miss most of the League, though, while attacker Ger Browne will be an absentee for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury.

"Ger unfortunately has a recurring, ongoing knee issue. When we investigated it further during the week, it showed up that it’ll require surgery," Cahill said.

"Unfortunate for Ger and unfortunate for us as well that Ger will likely miss the remainder of the season through that injury. Very disappointing news but Ger is very young and he’s a guy who will be back very soon when he gets that sorted out."

As for Laois, it was a chastening experience for O'Moore boss Willie Maher as he made the trip back to his native Tipp to face off against Ballingarry club-mate Cahill on the sideline.

The Midlanders were well off the pace with Maher under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead in Division 1 and beyond after hailing an "unbelievably impressive" display by the hosts.

"We're not going to change things in 10 weeks. Our lads didn't show up for 35 minutes and they let Tipperary play the ball around. Playing in Division 1 against top teams like this, we knew it was going to be a learning day," Maher said.

"We're trying to change things and get lads used to top level hurling and you can do nothing only learn on a night like this. We're working towards something; this is not a short-term project. Tonight was a line in the sand and we'll drive on from it."

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