Sunday 23 July 2017

Where are they now?

Pat McGrath (Former Waterford hurler): Living around the corner from the Mount Sion club served Pat McGrath well.

He won eight county titles with the club and one Munster club title and it was there he watched his sons, Ken and Eoin, move up through the underage hurling ranks and onto the senior inter-county stage.

Pat McGrath is known as one of the greatest centre-backs to have played the game. He may not have won many medals with Waterford but still earned legendary status.

His senior inter-county career began in 1971 when he was just 17. He hurled for 15 years with the county, captaining the under 21 team to a Munster title in 1974 when they beat Clare. But with the highs came the lows: his side lost two Munster finals to Cork in 1982 and '83, and both were crushing defeats.

Being an inter-county hurler in the 1970s and '80s was a lot different to how it is now and with sons who played for Waterford for the last two decades, McGrath has witnessed first-hand how things have changed.

"We were committed but it's at a different level now," he says. "We trained twice a week and played a match at the weekend, but now that training has doubled. On top of the pitch sessions, they are going to the gym twice a week now. We would have done a lot of hurling, a lot of sprinting and rounds of the field but mostly we concentrated on the hurling."

When McGrath finished playing, he coached Mount Sion for three years but when Ken and Eoin started to come onto the scene he took a step back, preferring for them to make their own way. And when Ken decided to call it a day with the county team last month, he applied the same logic.

"It was it was up to him, he made his own decision. Everyone knows when their time is up. Your mind wants you to do one thing but your body won't let you. And that's the way it is."

For 23 years McGrath worked as a master cutter at Waterford Glass and is now retired. He rarely misses a Waterford or Mount Sion match and will be in Walsh Park today to see the Déise take on Galway.

"I love going to games, myself and my wife always head off and make a day of it. The Waterford team of the last decade have given us great days and hopefully they will continue for many more years."

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