OFFALY U20 hurling manager Gary Cahill cut a happy man after last Wednesday's Leinster quarter-final win over Dublin. It was an epic with extra time needed to separate Offaly and Dublin with the Faithful landing a free with the last puck of the game to win it.
Cathal Kiely had been on the frees but was off the field with cramp while Brian Duignan and David Nally were also out of the fray leaving it up to John Murphy to land the winning free, something Cahill believed he would do.
“Cathal cramped up and went off injured, Brian had gone off injured – the two of them are our free-takers
“We had done it on the side the last couple of weeks. Any time we trained we’d have three or four lads (taking frees). Shane Hand (joint manager) was with John’s club last year and we said we’d let John go ahead.
“John’s a brother of Paddy who is an inter-county hurler as well. Nerves of steel. We’re only a step further, we’re still only in a Leinster semi-final. We’re probably a bit further than what we thought we would be, but sure it’s great to be there.”
The Birr club man who has Shane Hand with him on the management team praised his troops for the standards they have set for themselves.
“They’re a good bunch of lads. There’s 23, 24 of them underage next year. We’re building a team for two to three years. It could have gone anyway.
“It was a good game of hurling, it was ding-dong, up and down. We were lucky enough the scores came out on our side in the end.
“They worked together as a team and they worked for one another. They set their own standards and that’s the way we intend to go forward.”
Cahill also spoke glowingly of Cathal Kiely who landed 20 points on the night.
“Unbelievable hurler and he’s still a young lad. He’s only 18 years of age. He’s there for another two years. The boys won a lot of frees, Cathal put the ball over the bar and he had a few from play as well.”
Offaly excelled in the first period of extra time and Cahill admitted after that they decided to go for the juggler.
“It usually happens at the start of extra-time that one team goes gung-ho. So we decided, Okay, let’s go for it,’ Cahill explained.
“We’re after playing one or two games lately against senior teams where we looked to have extra-time.
“So tonight we said, ‘We’re fit enough, we’ll go for it.’ We were kind of holding on in the end, lads started to cramp up.
“They’re only young lads, 18, 19 and 20 so in the end it could have gone anyway but luckily enough we got a free at the end and John Murphy stood up and put the ball over the bar.”