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Liam Watson was man for the big occasion, says Dinny Cahill as Antrim and Cork get set to renew senior rivalry

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Good memory: Dinny Cahill can recall minor details of Antrim’s last senior Championship clash with Cork back in 2010. Credit: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Good memory: Dinny Cahill can recall minor details of Antrim’s last senior Championship clash with Cork back in 2010. Credit: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Good memory: Dinny Cahill can recall minor details of Antrim’s last senior Championship clash with Cork back in 2010. Credit: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

When he casts his mind back over the hundreds and thousands of games he has been stationed on the sideline, Dinny Cahill can still recall the little details of the 2010 quarter-final, the last time Antrim met Cork in senior Championship hurling.

Like how the Saffrons found themselves 0-4 to 0-0 down after seven minutes but found their feet. Cormac Donnelly was bullying Aisake O hAilpín to the extent that he was replaced by a fresh-faced youngster by the name of Patrick Horgan on 50 minutes.

Liam Watson had spent the winter playing soccer for Donegal Celtic and was tempted back for the closing games of the National League, only for his involvement to be curtailed by a suspension.

Starting on the edge of the square and then moving to centre-forward, he burned through a succession of markers in compiling 0-6.

But his talent was always volatile. After wrenching John Gardiner’s helmet off and tossing it 30 yards away, he was given his second yellow card and Antrim’s hopes went with him as Cork hit the last three points to butter up a 1-25 to 0-19 scoreline.

“He was on Eoin Cadogan,” recalled Cahill.

“It was Cadogan that acted up but I think Liam might have come out on top in that game.

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“I wasn’t surprised at that, because Liam was a top-class player. And the bigger the occasion, the more he responded to it. I think Croke Park suited him. He showed that in the Club Championship when he hit three goals on his own.

“There were players that could always step up on a big day and he was one that could do it.”

One of the game’s great missionaries, Cahill had two spells with Antrim, as well as further stints up north with Derry and Armagh, the mileage on his jeep creeping up to Euromillions numbers.

For all that he achieved and coached in the game, he might be remembered most for his words prior to the 2004 quarter-final against The Rebels.

“We are going to win the All-Ireland this year. We can win the All-Ireland after getting over this game, anything can happen from there,” he said.

Then he turned his sights on Brian Corcoran.

“Cork must have a problem when they recall Brian Corcoran. They have to have problems. They have had a dreadful inside forward line all season, couldn’t get the scores. They had to recall a man who was finished playing. Well, he will be finished after Sunday. No doubt about that.

“I talk straight. I say what is true. People can publish what they like but I’m telling the truth. Cork are finished, Brian Corcoran is finished.”

Later, he referred to centre-forward Niall McCarthy as “dreadful”.

Thinking back now, he doesn’t deny the words, but says there were subtleties lost in the interpretation.

But Cork laid them to waste, 2-26 to 0-10.

Much-travelled and vastly experienced, the Cloughjordan man has always been in demand.

Nowadays, he is with Sarsfields in Galway. On his journeys in and around the shed where he runs his cabinet-making business, he will still pick up a hurl every day and batter a ball against the wall.

“That will never go. Never go,” he laughed. 

He’s a big fan of what Darren Gleeson is doing in Antrim and still keeps a keen eye on their progress.

This weekend, the 4,200 tickets for Corrigan Park sold out in just under 10 minutes. Top-class Liam MacCarthy hurling is back in Belfast.

It’s been too long. 


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