Waterford boss McGrath facing new challenge after 'irrational' claim is rejected
Waterford's inability to prove that the decision to suspend Tadhg de Búrca for one game was 'irrational' has handed Derek McGrath a big challenge and an extra motivational weapon for tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final clash with Cork in Croke Park (3.30)
McGrath must now plan without one of his most influential players, greatly reducing Waterford's prospects of gaining revenge for the Munster semi-final defeat by Cork eight weeks ago and qualifying for a first All-Ireland final appearance since 2008.
Having failed to escape the sanction, which was imposed by the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) and upheld by the Central Appeals Committee (CAC) for interfering with Harry Kehoe's helmet during the Wexford-Waterford quarter-final, De Búrca took his case to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA). It ruled against him after a lengthy hearing on Thursday night.
In a statement, the three-person DRA committee held that De Búrca "had failed to establish the decisions of the CHC and CAC were irrational in finding the infraction to have incurred and in imposing the minimum suspension".
The DRA adjudication dramatically alters the dynamic for Waterford who will now be without probably their most consistent defender over the last few seasons.
It leaves McGrath with the task of re-organising his half-back line to counteract a rapidly-improving Cork half-forward line, led by Conor Lehane.
Kieran Bennett was named as replacement for De Búrca in the team announced last night. Bennett (22) will make his Championship debut alongside his brother Shane (20), with Stephen (21) on the bench.
De Búrca's absence increases Cork's chance of reaching the All-Ireland final as Munster champions for the first time since 2006 - they beat Waterford by five points in June.
Waterford relaunched their All-Ireland bid via the qualifiers, beating Offaly and Kilkenny before winning the quarter-final against Wexford by four points.
If Waterford win tomorrow, they will set up a first ever All-Ireland final clash with Galway, who last met Cork in the decider in 2005.