The men with the plan: under-20 hurling manager Liam Cahill and coach Michael Bevans.
Team coach Michael Bevans represents a key influence on the Tipperary under-20 hurling panel. The Toomevara man has been working with the vast majority of the current squad for the past four seasons and, as a result, it is Bevans' responsibility to ensure that training captures the imagination of the players and that how the group are prepared is relevant to the up-coming challenge - the Premier County, of course, will take on Cork in the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland Under-20 Hurling Championship final on Saturday, August 24 at the LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick (6pm).
“It's a big part of it, actually, because if you went back at it doing the same things at the same time every year it would get a bit stale,” Michael Bevans explained.
“So, you are always conscious of that and try to change it up a little bit. Tommy Ryan, our strength and conditioning coach, was a great change in that regard - he came in last year and he offered something new to it; especially at the under-21 grade last year when we felt that they needed that work on the strength side of it. This year we have changed it up another bit as well by just varying training and keeping the thing fresh.”
Obviously, Bevans is doing something very right. With Michael Bevans installed as coach the Premier County have won an All-Ireland minor title in 2016, an All-Ireland under-21 title in 2018 and a Munster under-20 crown already this season.
And, Michael Bevans has revealed that he actually enjoys facing the challenge of stimulating the minds of his players on the training field.
“Exactly, for me as a coach that's the part that I love the most,” Michael Bevans explained.
“I would look at different things and look at games; taking little bits out here and there and then try to apply it to training. And, try to challenge these players in a way that is relevant and not just pick out things that I think they might enjoy. It has to be relevant to the game that is coming and to the style of hurling that we want to play,” added the Toome man who name-checked club colleague and senior selector Tommy Dunne as a key influence on his coaching career.
“You can talk about tactics and training and the way that you structure your training, but, at the end of the day, you also want to keep in mind that the players have to have the ability to think for themselves,” Michael Bevans told the Tipperary Star.
“You don't want to take that aspect away from it - they can't be going around out there like robots. They have to have the ability to change and to adapt in the middle of a game and do it themselves and see things themselves because if you are trying to control everything you are not going to develop a good player."
The Tipperary under-20 management team pictured back row from left: TJ Ryan (selector), Tommy Ryan (strength & conditioning coach), Liam Cahill (manager), Seán Corbett (selector), Kevin O'Sullivan (goalkeeping coach) and Michael Bevans (coach-selector). Front row from left: Paddy Julian (physio) and John Durnan (kitman).
Tipperary's 8-16 to 1-15 win over Wexford in the sem-finals of the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland Under-20 Hurling Championship reflected very positively on team coach Michael Bevans, but you won't catch Mikey getting carried away, especially when he is preparing to team to face Cork in the up-coming All-Ireland final.
“We just went about our business against Wexford - the way we always do it,” Michael Bevans said.
“We apply ourselves as best we can, we work very hard and whatever opportunities come your way then you take them. The players worked hard, they made opportunities and they took them. It was great, but I don't expect to score eight goals against Cork in the final, that's for sure.”
And, Bevans is experienced enough to realise that Tipperary were one break of a ball away from losing the recent Munster final to Cork (3-15 to 2-17).
“In the last couple of years - when these teams have met - they have brought out the best in each other. So, that's a good thing and that's something to look forward to. The last day, in the Munster final, a lot of neutrals commented after that they thought Cork were unlucky. It obviously is a big motivating factor for Cork and we are under no illusions that there was only a puck of a ball in it. It is a challenge, but we will take it on and we are looking forward to it.”
In the semi-final against Wexford the Tipperary under-20 team lined out as follows: Aaron Browne (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams), Craig Morgan (Kilruane MacDonagh's), Eoghan Connolly (Cashel King Cormacs), Conor McCarthy (Nenagh Éire Óg), Niall Heffernan (Golden-Kilfeacle), Paddy Cadell (JK Bracken's), Bryan O’Mara (Holycross-Ballycahill), Ciarán Connolly (Loughmore-Castleiney), Johnny Ryan (Arravale Rovers), Conor Bowe (Moyne-Templetuohy), Jerome Cahill (Kilruane MacDonagh's), Gearóid O'Connor (Moyne-Templetuohy), Jake Morris (Nenagh Éire Óg), Andrew Ormond (JK Bracken's), Billy Seymour (Kiladangan). Subs used: Seán Hayes (Kiladangan), Kian O’Kelly (Kilruane MacDonagh's), Joe Fogarty (Moneygall), Darragh Woods (Holycross-Ballycahill) & Michael Purcell (Thurles Sarsfields).
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