Tipperary Supporters Club

Founded 1986

Co. Tipperary

Cahill and Tipp looking to get monkey off back with defeat of Limerick

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Source: Irish Examiner

You can imagine how Liam Cahill and Mikey Bevans’ conversations with their Tipperary players will go this week ahead of facing Limerick. 

“They’ve hurt us too, boys. We know your pain.” 

Four times in championship, Cahill and Bevans put out Waterford teams against John Kiely’s men only to be beaten each time. Tipperary, meanwhile, have lost their last four SHC meetings with their neighbours, which has prompted claims of harbouring psychological hang-ups about the All-Ireland champions.

Omit that 2019 Munster SHC Round 5 win when Limerick looked disinterested especially in the context of what they were to do to Tipperary in the subsequent Munster final, and it’s hardly been a rivalry in the Kiely era.

By combining their resources, Cahill and Bevans and their charges won’t be short of motivation when they turn up to the TUS Gaelic Grounds on Saturday where Tipperary haven’t beaten Limerick since the 2015 Munster semi-final when they bagged four goals.

Obviously, the most appropriate time to put stop to their respective losing streaks against Limerick is on May 21 in the counties’ provincial Round 4 fixture in Thurles. However, the very experience of finishing on the right side at full-time against Limerick will be important to team and management heading into the Munster SHC. Of the starting side that last beat Limerick four years ago, five have retired (James Barry, Seán O’Brien, Brendan and Pádraic Maher, John O’Dwyer), two are currently injured (Cathal Barrett and Seamus Callanan) and Brian Hogan is travelling.

A lot of scar tissue has built up these past four years, not least from the 2021 Munster final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh when they gave what appeared to be one of the most complete first-half displays against reigning All-Ireland champions only for Limerick to produce an even better second half.

Speaking a week later, Ronan Maher denied Tipperary were affected by that awesome Limerick turnaround, but clearly there was some baggage as the energy of Cahill’s Waterford proved too much for them in the following All-Ireland quarter-final.

If there is one management group that have reason to be obsessive about Limerick, it’s Cahill and Bevans. It wasn’t them talking about a potential trilogy of championship games with Kiely’s side last year but everyone else was and Waterford’s failure to live up to their side of the bargain would have smarted bad.

In front of the cameras in TUS Gaelic Grounds last April after couple of late goals flattered Waterford’s challenge against Limerick who lost Cian Lynch to injury in the first half, Cahill spoke of the team edging closer to Kiely’s side. Yet speaking to the print and online media, he was more despondent. “Did we really deserve it over the hour?” he asked himself. “I’m not 100% sure. My initial feeling is we didn’t if we did have to sneak something. This Limerick team, it’s going to be very hard to try and unlock them as to what the strategy is to beat them. They’re a real decent outfit.” Those late Stephen Bennett (free) and Jack Prendergast goals ended roughly 300 minutes of championship hurling without a green flag for Waterford against Limerick. For Cahill and Bevans, that statistic would have been galling, seeing how they have always espoused the importance of going for the jugular.

At the same time, across those four SHC meetings with Limerick their Waterford outfits conceded just one goal, Aaron Gillane’s goal in the 2021 All-Ireland semi-final, which was initiated from a sideline cut being intercepted by Peter Casey.

Cahill has learned to his cost that you can’t outpoint Limerick. Eleven months ago, he bemoaned the goal opportunities that Waterford had been “butchering” before Bennett and Prendergast finally found the net. “You have to be rattling that net every day you go out but especially against Limerick when they are able to pick off scores from long range,” he remarked. “They’re always going to be well into the 23, 24-point mark, so you have to be putting a goal or two on the scoreboard to be counteracting that.”

With 14 goals in their five Division 1 Group B games this year, Tipperary are in the mood for them. Just as they and their management should be to shake the Limerick monkey off their backs.

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