IT WILL BE a case of membership teammates turned county opponents on the Semple Stadium sideline right this moment as Liam Cahill and Willie Maher take their first Allianz Hurling League recreation as Tipperary and Laois managers.

Lately, each of the Ballingarry pair appeared destined for the Premier hotseat at numerous phases.

It was thought of a two-horse race between them in 2018 earlier than Liam Sheedy’s late declaration for a second coming.

It was comparable in 2021 besides Cahill was the popular candidate earlier than he turned down the job and Maher was pipped on the put up by Colm Bonnar.

Ultimately, when Bonnar was moved on after one season, Cahill’s CV was too laborious to disregard: All-Eire-winning Tipperary supervisor at minor, U20, and U21 with three years’ inter-county expertise and a Nationwide League from his time with Waterford.

Maher, additionally with a minor All-Eire to his identify (2012) and a 12 months working as a selector with Derek McGrath in Waterford earlier than stints at Cuala and Bennettsbridge, will put his concepts into inter-county motion within the Laois bainisteoir’s bib, most just lately worn by Séamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett.

They have been solely separated by a 12 months as gamers. Cahill the Tipperary minor captain in 1995, Maher the Tipperary minor captain in 1996, a season which ended with Maher climbing the steps of the Hogan Stand as All-Eire victors.

With Ballingarry Gaels (an amalgamation with St Patrick’s, Drangan), they led a crew from exterior the Tipperary hurling elite to back-to-back county minor titles in 1994 and ’95 from centre-back and centre-forward respectively, the primary membership from the south division ever to win the competitors. Cahill’s right-hand man Mikey Bevans was a member of the Toomevara crew they beat each years within the knockout phases.

Their supervisor on the time, Jamesie Ivors, tells The42 they have been completely different characters however each leaders.

“That they had an awesome perspective to the sport. Each of them have been actually pushed however completely different people on the similar time. However their purpose was the identical: to win and to enhance.

“William would have been the extra bodily greater man however Liam would have been extra aggressive than William. Liam can be extra vocal on the sphere and William was a distinct kind of participant, quieter in his voice on the taking part in discipline however off the sphere, each of them have been very influential with us. They have been very efficient gamers and leaders in numerous methods.

“Once they have been taking part in, to me, they have been mannequin gamers. Individuals who needed to study the sport.

“I’m not shocked that they’re on the stage they’re at now. They have been all the time good folks and got here from a very good background of individuals. They’re so good off the sphere in addition to on it, good to have round a membership, and a very good instance to youthful gamers.”

Cahill went on to develop into the primary Ballingarry man to win an All-Star in his breakout 1996 season and the primary to win an All-Eire medal in 2001 however he seems to be again on his profession with the remorse of not reaching his potential.

That has knowledgeable his administration profession in such a approach that his focus is all the time to be “straight up” in dealings with gamers.

“I by no means reached the extent I ought to have for the power I had,” he instructed the Irish Instances in 2020. “I wasn’t as constant as I ought to have been as a participant. It wasn’t by an absence of dedication, it was extra that I might have benefited from a bit extra steering alongside the way in which.

“It was a distinct time. It was each man for himself. You come to coaching, you practice as laborious as you may, and also you go residence and also you spend a number of time by yourself, considering. I made so many errors as a younger fella. I had potential, I had expertise, however there have been areas of my recreation that allow me down. A few of it was from a ability perspective nevertheless it was primarily from a temperament viewpoint.”

Maher was classmates with two extra inter-county managers at St Kieran’s Faculty in Henry Shefflin and Derek Lyng however he by no means made it to the heights of the inter-county recreation attributable to harm.

In a coaching session at UCD 21 years in the past this month, he was struck within the face by a stray belt of a hurley and misplaced virtually all imaginative and prescient in his left eye.

He returned to tog out for his membership in a 2005 Munster Senior Hurling League remaining towards Na Piarsaigh of Cork, credited with taking part in a “big half” off the bench in Ballingarry’s comeback to win in extra-time alongside the “so skilful” Cahill.

He was outspoken in his evaluation of Tipperary’s struggles final 12 months, telling native radio after the Clare defeat: “I’ve by no means been as unhappy popping out of Semple Stadium.

“The sport has moved, now we have to maneuver with it. Now we have actually good gamers and if we have been arrange correctly and coached like that to play a contemporary recreation, I feel there’d possibly be much less despair and issues like Sunday wouldn’t occur.”

After the League remaining, he spoke of what then-Waterford supervisor Cahill as “a really intense, dedicated participant, actually on the sting on a regular basis, and he’s bringing all that to bear now in a administration capability”.

Ivors remembers any time they did opposition evaluation, even again in these minor days and up the grades to senior, Maher and Cahill would all the time be tuned in.

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“Realizing each of them, their teaching type can be comparable within the sense they need to win and preparation can be meticulous from each of them. No stone unturned.

“They’d be very skilled of their method to preparation and all of the issues that go together with prime groups.

“I’m not a bit shocked that they went to inter-county stage as a result of their method after they have been taking part in was skilled all the time.”

Ivors laughs when requested if he takes any credit score for uplifting two inter-county managers of the longer term.

“It makes me proud to suppose we have been concerned with these two lads and the place they’re now. I don’t take any credit score for any of that. I’d wish to suppose possibly they realized one thing from me however they’re their very own males.”

He reckons he was extra like Liam as a managar, with just a few selection phrases on the sideline and within the dressing room. Maher lives throughout the border in Kilkenny now however each nonetheless contribute to the membership.

“They’ve helped out with the membership since they’re retired, each of them. They took the crew at completely different occasions. They have been all the time invested within the membership.

“Liam was concerned with our U15s or U17s final 12 months that have been in a south remaining and William educated the seniors. They’d are available and do periods. Even final 12 months, Liam was doing coaching periods with the lads whereas he was nonetheless with Waterford.

“All you’d should do is raise the cellphone. The identical with each of them. For those who needed them to do a session with a juvenile crew or no matter, in the event that they have been round, by no means an issue. They’re good like that, giving again.”

As each managers consider the character of their younger groups on Saturday, maybe they’ll search for the traits Ivors noticed in all of them these years in the past.

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