Premier star O’Dwyer wary of Waterford resurgence under Tipperary native Cahill

Tipperary hurler John 'Bubbles' O’Dwyer at the annoucement of Allianz's five-year extension of its sponsorship of the football and hurling leagues. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Tipperary hurler John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer at the annoucement of Allianz’s five-year extension of its sponsorship of the football and hurling leagues. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Tipperary forward John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer isn’t surprised by Waterford’s upsurge in form under Liam Cahill.

Cahill, who managed Tipp’s All-Ireland-winning U-21 and U-20 teams in 2018 and ’19, will face his native county for the first time since taking over in Waterford in Sunday’s Division 1 clash at Semple Stadium.

O’Dwyer had Cahill as a selector with the Tipp minors (2008) and U-21s (2010) and he reckons “50 or 60 per cent of our panel have been on teams coached by Liam” and his sideline assistant Mikey Bevans.

“Any of the players that came through from the U-21 or U-20 teams of the last few years, they have nothing but glowing praise for Liam,” said O’Dwyer, who hasn’t played since the second round of the league when he was substituted against Cork after landing heavily on his neck.

“They knew with Liam going down there, it was going to be an instant success.

“He drives standards,” O’Dwyer went on, “and it is not as if Waterford have bad players, they have some serious players and it was all about Liam putting his stamp on it, and he has done that.”

“Waterford haven’t turned into a bad team overnight. They still have the same players that have been there for the past five or six years.

“A lot of those lads are still some of the best hurlers in the country.”

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Tipperary require at least one win from their final two games to retain hope of making the league play-offs and landing a first spring title in 12 years – a record O’Dwyer admitted was “pretty bleak”.

Of the current squad, Seamus Callanan is the only player who holds a league medal.

“For a county like ourselves, the pride is in winning,” O’Dwyer stressed. “To think Seamie is even there 12 years is mad in itself. I’ve lost three finals, two to Kilkenny and one to Galway and in those three league finals, I’d say we weren’t in a position to win.

“The more you can win, the better. I have everything else so it’s the only one that’s missing at the minute.

“It’s probably the second championship, the second competition that you want to win. It’s hugely important for lads and hugely important to bring on all these young fellas.”

Of his injury in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, O’Dwyer insisted he didn’t suffer a concussion, as initially assumed.

“It was just a precaution because I came down heavily on my neck. I told lads I felt fine but it was just to rule out any possibility of anything going wrong,” he remarked.

“I had to take a couple of days off because I was sore but there was no concussion. I was back in training that weekend. I haven’t seen it back but I’ve been told it looked bad but there was no belt on the head, thankfully.”

Despite his own experiences, O’Dwyer is not in favour of the further use of technology in the officiating of hurling.

In the dying seconds of the 2014 All-Ireland final against Kilkenny, he had a 97-metre free to win Liam MacCarthy for Tipperary.

It went close but Hawk-Eye intervened and deemed it a “miss”.

O’Dwyer has always contended that the score should have stood.

“I think it would just ruin the game to be honest,” he said, “it is supposed to be a fast-paced sport.

“It will ruin it for spectators, will ruin it for players, will ruin it for everyone. All these proposals coming out about hurling and changes – don’t change something that is not broken.”

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