Liam Cahill’s managerial CV is growing more impressive by the game.
The Ballingarry native led Tipperary to All-Ireland titles at minor, U20 and U21 level, and has now brought Waterford to an All-Ireland final.
He will be hoping to end the Deise’s 61-year wait for a Liam MacCarthy Cup triumph, after watching his team overturn a nine-point deficit against Kilkenny in Saturday’s semi-final.
“It took everything we had,” he told Sky Sports.
“I’m just thrilled for the players. They really got to grips with things in the second half. Our decision-making and indecisiveness was costing us in the first half. We showed great character to come back from seven points down at half-time, so I’m really proud of them.
“They’re a real honest bunch of players, a real modest group. I think that’s why we work so well to be honest. But the lads knew at half-time that they hadn’t done themselves justice in a few aspects of their play, decision-wise. We said if we tidy that up, we might be able to create something. So thankfully we got to grips with it and got the result in the end.”
We showed great character to come back from seven points down at half-time, so I’m really proud of them.
Cahill was pleased with his side’s response
Cahill has helped a county dream, 12 months after being appointed as manager.
“It would be superb,” he said, when asked about a potential All-Ireland title. “I would really love to achieve this for the players, mainly. That’s being really honest about it. They are first and foremost. For me, I’m very privileged and honoured to be able to facilitate these players. That’s all I do.
“It’s all down to the players. They have to implement what we come up with. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. Thankfully we’re still there, we’re in a final. It’s great for Waterford GAA. It’s great for Waterford people around the world as well. I’m just thrilled to be a part of that, and be able to assist in any way I can.”
Man-of-the-match Stephen Bennett was thrilled with Waterford’s fightback after a slow start.
“We were a bit panicky, I don’t think we were even flat in the first half,” said the Ballysaggart man.
“We panicked on balls, we hit silly balls in, snap-shots. I don’t think we should have been that much down. We were in the game, we felt, we just needed to stop and compose ourselves. It’s fine bringing work-rate, but the best teams bring that with hurling.
“Thank God in the second half we pulled away and started getting a few points. We stood up, each to a man.”
They re-emerged rejuvenated in the second half.
“We just needed half-time,” he continued. “Mikey (Bevans), Liam Cahill and Stephen (Frampton) told us, ‘we can’t come up to Dublin and just do that, after a positive enough year. We’re after leaving enough of them behind us’.
“We knew we had enough in us. In fairness to the lads, everyone stood up.”
It’s one more step. We need to go and win something now.
Bennett knows these chances don’t come too often
Bennett is thrilled to be lifting the spirits of a county, saying: “The last two years, the Waterford people haven’t had much to shout about. They were trying but we gave them nothing. It will lift the spirits.
“We’re in a very lucky position. We’re fairly privileged to be able to come up to Croke Park. I know the stadium is empty, but that will [boost spirits]. Old people will be texting you during the week. This will add a bit of life to them, sitting at home watching their televisions tonight.
“It’s one more step. We need to go and win something now.
“We’re going to be underdogs against either Galway or Limerick. They are probably the best two teams in the country.
“But we don’t care who we play now. If we play like we did in the first half, we won’t have a chance. But if we stand up and things go for us, we feel we have a chance against anyone.”
Meanwhile, Brian Cody was full of praise for Waterford’s fightback.
“Waterford came strongly in the second half, won a huge amount of possession and used it very well,” said the James Stephens man.
“On the day, the better team won the game as always happens. Well done to them.
“We never felt comfortable. Seven-point lead at half-time, it’s nice to have it. But it was a long, long way from game over.
“They came very strongly. They showed their ability, they showed their class. Their ability to win ball was huge, and their athleticism as well. But look, they’re an excellent team. We lost by a few points in the end and that’s it.”
Watch Galway vs Limerick live on Sky Sports Mix from 3pm Sunday, as Waterford will learn the identity of their All-Ireland final opponents.
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