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Clare Captain John Cahill leads out his team for their Munster Minor Championship Semi-Final at Pairc Ui Rinn. Photograph by John Kelly

Tipp blood, Clare heart and soul

Clare Captain John Cahill enters this evening’s Munster Minor Hurling Final with more skin in the game than most it seems. While undoubtedly hoping to eventually follow his cousin Paul Curran’s major playing accomplishments of a clean sweep of senior honours from an All-Ireland crown to a National League title with Tipperary over a decade ago, in the immediate term his mother’s Mullinahone roots only provide motivational fuel for the versatile Clooney-Quin star against Tipperary in the TUS Gaelic Grounds tonight (7.30pm).
After all, it’s not the first time, this month even, that Cahill has been incentivised by familial ties.
“While my mother’s family are from Tipperary, my father is from Cork.” Explains the bubbly captain. “So from my own perspective, the two teams I wanted to beat this year were obviously Cork and Tipp. At the start of the year, most people were tipping both to be fighting it out to win Munster so we’ve beaten Cork, we just need to beat Tipp now.”
The determination to overcome Cork on their own home patch wasn’t solely about family bragging rights as Cahill was also one of six survivors that had been unceremoniously dumped out of last year’s championship by the rampaging Rebels by a whopping 40 points.
“There was obviously a bit of criticism afterwards but I think it was worse on the players to the age because they didn’t have the opportunity to prove themselves this year.
“I was lucky that I was underage again and therefore we were gunning for Cork the last day. We really wanted to beat them because of all the stuff that was said about Clare hurling being dead. But look at us now, we’re in a Munster Final, a position very few thought would happen.
“The pressure was off our shoulders to a large extent going down to Cork though as the general feeling was that Cork would get through to the Munster final on their own home patch. But it wasn’t daunting for us, we knew that they weren’t unbeatable and that if we played the way we had been playing, we could beat them.”
In particular, Clare’s defensive maturity in the semi-final demonstrated their clear evolution from a more naive opening reverse to Tipperary three weeks earlier.
“During the Tipp game, we conceded two killer goals just after half-time and we never recovered but when the goal went it right on half-time against Cork, we were more prepared as we had chatted about that scenario.
“So we didn’t panic, we went in at half-time and regrouped and came back out to score 1-1 in a matter of minutes so I kind of knew at that stage that Cork weren’t going to come back from that.
“We just put our foot on their throat and while there were a few nervy moments near the end, we kept our lead well I felt to dig out the win.”
Clare will also feel that they are a much more well-oiled machine heading into tonight’s provincial derby rematch with Tipperary, that this time has the addition golden carrot of `Munster glory attached to it.
“We’ve three wins on the bounce now so we’re going into the final with no fear of anyone. We’ve played Tipp before and know what they’re like. We know their strengths and marquee players so we feel that we are more than a match for them.
“There’s a great buzz around in the camp, everyone is playing for the management too as they are all well liked and know us inside-out at this stage and overall we want to do as best we can for the county.
“There is a good feeling about Clare hurling this year. A few of us were in the terrace the last day in Thurles for the senior match against Cork and seeing Clare winning just reinforced the belief that Clare hurling is back.
“So for us to get through to a Munster Final just adds to that nice feeling around the county and hopefully we can keep that buzz going on Wednesday evening.”

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