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McGrath opts off Deise setup

WATERFORD hurling boss Michael Ryan has been left with a giant backroom void to fill after Ken McGrath stepped down as a selector, citing work commitments.

The Déise legend is taking up a new job with Kellogg's and has already described as "nonsense" rumours that his departure was due to unhappiness with Mount Sion's defeat to De La Salle in the Waterford SHC semi-finals. "I've stepped down because I have a job that I'm concentrating on," he explained.

McGrath added: "It's a huge commitment and it might be something I'd go back and look at doing again in the future, when I've a bit more experience in dealing with teams, but it's something you need a real hunger for. I loved it for the last few months and enjoyed working with Michael, Seán (Cullinane) and the players, and the season went well enough."

Paying tribute to the "superb service" of his now-former selector, boss Ryan revealed: "I know that he is also interested in playing on with Mount Sion who have a lot of good young players coming through."

LIAM O'NEILL has defended the decision to enter Kilkenny footballers in the British football championship, insisting their withdrawal from the NFL and Leinster junior championship was not a "kneejerk reaction".

The decision has already prompted a negative response from Kilkenny players Paul Donnelly and JJ Grace, but the GAA president highlighted the Warwickshire hurling blueprint as an example of how Kilkenny's drastic cross-channel move could kickstart football on Noreside.

The English outfit were initially invited into the Nicky Rackard Cup (hurling's third tier championship) and this led on to their involvement in NHL 3B this year.

"There's a bigger picture here and we are trying to learn lessons from where we've been," said O'Neill. "On one occasion after Kilkenny had been in a bit of bother this year, I happened to be on the phone to Ned Quinn (Kilkenny secretary) the day after they had been hammered.

"I said to him, 'if we can bring Warwickshire across (to play hurling), why not do something for Kilkenny? There is nowhere we can provide competition for you because no one else is in the same stage of development as you are. So, why not give Kilkenny breathing space for a couple of years by playing in the British championship?"

DONIE BUCKLEY could be heading for Mayo following reports that manager James Horan wants the highly regarded Kerryman to be his football coach next season.

Horan is seeking to fill the vacancy prompted by Cian O'Neill's post All-Ireland final exit and the Ennis-based Buckey has emerged as an option.