Friday, February 19, 2021

Liam Cahill of Tipperary under pressure from Tom Feeney of Waterford during their Munster SHC semi-final in 1998. They pair will team up as part of the Déise’s backroom team for 2021. Photo: Inpho.

Former Déise defender Tom Feeney was the ideal man to replace his Ballyduff Upper club mate Stephen Molumphy as selector according to Liam Cahill. They crossed hurls in the 1998 Munster semi-final between Waterford and Tipperary.
“Tom Feeney is the perfect fit for our set-up. Stephen Molumphy, as we know, is work-tied and can’t commit for 2021. Tom was an easy choice for me. As a player, he epitomised that passion and that desire to play for Waterford. He was like Stephen Frampton, he did his talking on the field. They weren’t about fisting pumping or saluting the crowd or media headlines. They did their talking on the field. When they came off the field and retired, they put their work into their clubs at underage. They epitomise everything that’s right about a proper GAA person. Tom Feeney brings that kind of a presence. He is a straight-up individual who has a good knowledge of what is out there in Waterford hurling. He doesn’t take fools lightly either and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
Feeney was part of the Déise senior panel from 1993 to 2008. He won Munster minor, under 21 and senior medals as well as a National League title. Like Frampton, Feeney was part of the selection panel in 2019 that chose Cahill to take over as Waterford manager. “They asked all the right questions as far as I was concerned. For me, it was easy to approach Tom to fill the gap because he knows exactly what’s required.”

There will be fresh faces on the field as well. Shane Bennett, DJ Foran, Seamus Keating, Michael Kiely and Thomas Douglas have been added to the panel for the new campaign. “These five players are in on merit; they have performed well with their clubs in the summer. There’s a few brought in from a development point of view as well to give them the opportunity to step up, not necessarily this year. It’s my brief to keep a conveyor belt of players coming through. I came from a development background with underage teams, my grá is always to look for that type of player. We have three or four of them identified and in with us. We’re looking for players to give us a real impetus straight away and players that you’re trying to develop and make sure that they’re ready in twelve months or two years’ time, whether it’s me or some other manager.”

Cahill feels that stricter sanctions should be imposed for cynical play. A proposal is set to come before Congress where a foul denying a goal-scoring opportunity would be punished with a penalty and a ten-minute sin bin. On All-Ireland final day, Declan Hannon and William O’Donoghue denied Dessie Hutchinson and Stephen Bennett clear goal chances. O’Donoghue got a yellow card, Hannon got none. “For an obvious goal chance, the punishment needs to be a lot harsher for that. If an inside forward gets inside a back and he is pulled to the ground with a goal opportunity at his mercy, the punishment has to come up. When you have created a real goal opportunity and that’s allowed to happen and it’s only one point instead of three and there is only a ticking or a yellow card, it’s not sufficient. We’re seeing too much of it of late. If we want to see more goals, more action and more excitement in our games, they are going to have to bring in that in my opinion. I wasn’t a believer of it at the start of the league last year. I was asked the same question and I said no but from seeing what I’ve seen throughout the course of the championship, there’s been several incidents in a lot of matches that have gone unpunished. It’s detrimental to the team that has left a goal opportunity behind them. I think that has to be addressed.”

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By Tomás McCarthy
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