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Liam Cahill: 'If ever a performance epitomised Austin Gleeson, on my watch, I think today was that'

The Waterford boss hailed his team after their second-half fightback.

Austin Gleeson in action for Waterford against Kilkenny's Huw Lawlor.
Austin Gleeson in action for Waterford against Kilkenny's Huw Lawlor.
Image: INPHO

LIAM CAHILL HAILED the application of his Waterford players in their second-half comeback at Croke Park tonight as they produced an extraordinary revival to book a spot in the All-Ireland final.

And the Tipperary native who has guided Waterford to the decider in his first season in charge, singled out the graft of Austin Gleeson for particular praise as they came from behind to see off Kilkenny by four points.

“The fellas worked really hard today to see out the match and credit to Austin Gleeson, he was out on his legs there and he absolutely gave everything he had. If ever a performance epitomised Austin Gleeson, on my watch, I think today was that.

“In fairness to the man, he’s been lauded and applauded for all the spectacular things he does. I think from today and over my reign so far, he’s brought a different aspect to his game from work rate and honesty and hooking and blocking and I’m delighted for him in particular.

“That’s what will be required every day you go out and you’re playing opposition like Kilkenny or the top teams in the country, you have to have that ruthlessness to see out matches.”

liam-cahill Waterford boss Liam Cahill. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The attacking class of Stephen Bennett was also vital to securing Waterford’s success.

“Absolutely, he’s having a marvellous year isn’t he? He’s a really good forward,” stated Cahill.

“He always was a good forward, it’s just that he’s now delivering consistently. He’s a massive player. He makes mistakes but I don’t think he’s beating himself up as much as he used to about making mistakes. He’s always concentrating on the next ball. Thrilled for him that he’s eventually fulfilling his potential that he’s showed for so many years.”

The success sees Waterford just a victory away from ending their long wait for the Liam MacCarthy Cup. Cahill took over when the county was at a low ebb after no victory had been achieved across the 2018 and 2019 campaigns but he insisted a place in the final was always a target.

“I think it was a realistic goal if you were setting targets at the start of the year it was a realistic goal, to look to get to a final.

“I don’t mean to sound as though we were confident or arrogant about it, but we did feel if we looked after ourselves and trained well that we’d have a chance if we got a bit of luck along the way.

“We’re there and we’ll take it now and we’ll look forward to the final.”

Cahill feels it would be difficult to now open the doors for the final for supporters with demand guaranteed to outstrip supply but he did again appeal for extended panel members to be allowed attend inter-county games.

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“Where do you start, who do you allow in? To be fair, our games are about community and everybody, it’s hard enough to have restrictions, but if you’re having restrictions on who you’re letting in, I don’t think that’s what the GAA is about. I don’t think they’ll allow that kind of leniency.

“The only thing I would demand is that the extended panels and backroom teams be allowed in. That’s ten, fifteen people max – that would be a massive plus if that were allowed, but I don’t foresee crowds being left in and I don’t think it would be right, either.”

Defeating Kilkenny will boost Waterford’s belief but Cahill pointed to some ‘cringe moments’ that will be apparent when they review the game.

tadhg-de-burca-and-calum-lyons-celebrate-after-the-game Tadhg De Búrca and Calum Lyons celebrate after Waterford's win. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“Any team that wins an All-Ireland, they usually have to beat Kilkenny along the way, so it’s great.

“Kilkenny are a massive force in hurling and always have been, they’re always the benchmark, the team to beat, so it would have to give us extra confidence, so it’s great.

“But there are so many aspects of our play today that we’ll need to look at. I can’t emphasise that enough. When we look back at it over the rest of the week there’ll be a lot of cringe moments there – if those happen in two weeks’ time they’ll cost us.

“Decision-making was costing us big time in the first half, left quite a number of easy plays and chances maybe behind us. I thought it was more mentally with our mindset than our legs moreso, so we just tied to address that and see could we turn it around.

“We looked for a green flag or two, we needed that to give ourselves a chance of getting back into the game and thankfully we got that. Thrilled and delighted to be in a final.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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