Sport GAA

Monday 26 August 2019

Derek McGrath - My future didn't solely hang on team trip to New York and Cancun

Waterford manager Derek McGrath. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Waterford manager Derek McGrath. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Waterford hurling manager Derek McGrath says he makes "no apologies" if he was deemed to have "overstepped the mark" in his negotiations with the county board over the funding of a team holiday to New York and Cancun after Christmas.

McGrath insisted the delay in rubberstamping his continuation as manager into 2018 was down to a number of factors, not just the funding of a holiday and the involvement of all members of his back-room team, including those who are paid for their services.

In an interview with WLR, McGrath acknowledged personal issues had to be dealt with first before he could commit. But it was the funding of the holiday on which most speculation focused.

McGrath was adamant he never made any "demands" to the board but had done extensive research on how other counties funded their holidays, including making calls to Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Micheál Donoghue.

"I emailed the county board and asked them to consider the need for parity with other counties. I make no apologies. I may have overreached or overstepped the mark or been impudent with the approach I took with the board. I accept they are in a precarious position and it took me a while to accept that.

"I am difficult to deal with from the board's point of view. The players are part of my remit, maybe my only remit. Not (a case of) pleasing the players but backing them and ensuring they get what they deserve is part of my management style.

"Because I'm looking for the absolute best for the players who have sacrificed everything over four years," he said, pointing out that they had trained on Christmas Day for the last three years.

The inclusion of the entire back-room team on the trip was also important to him, he said, noting that some of the medical team had put off going to the Olympic Games in 2016 to be with the Déise.

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"I'd have a major argument with that because I see what they do. I see them completely hands on, seven days a week. The hours they put in, equating that with expenses, it's completely disproportionate.

"There is more than an element of vocation and altruism in what all the guys in our party do. It's what makes inclusivity so important. If we didn't have the empathy to see that, we'd end up having isolation and alienation in our panel.

"I was disappointed to hear of a local article that equated the stalling of management talks with the holiday alone," he said.


"There were so many facets that had to be decided before you commit to something like this. To equate it with money and the demands for money? The reality is the average cost of a trip to the places we are going to is €34,000. There were disagreements and arguments but there weren't arguments that don't happen in every work place around Ireland.

"I had my opinion, the lads had their opinion. When I hear excessive or greed or living in cuckoo-land associated with these guys, when I see what they put into it, I'd be disappointed. It annoyed me for a while. You then move on."

McGrath says he intends to become "less obsessive" about the job in 2018 and take more enjoyment out of it.

"I'd be obsessive when it comes to hurling to the point where the sustainability of it is questionable," he admitted.

"I'd find it hard to park (a result) on a Sunday evening. I have to get better at that parking/grieving process."

He said he would strive to find a better balance with family life, pointing out that his son Fionn will make his Confirmation on May 20 next, the same day as the Munster championship is due to start.

"As luck was we got a bye to May 27. The idea of being on the line in the Munster championship with Fionn making his Confirmation in St John's didn't appeal. What's more important?"

McGrath confirmed that Tom Devine would return to the squad for 2018 and outlined that fringe players would get a more extensive run during the league. up.

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