Derek McGrath dismisses any talk of disharmony with departed Tom Devine
Derek McGrath admits he "pleaded" with Tom Devine to put off travel plans this summer and put his shoulder to the wheel once more with the Waterford hurlers.
Devine, a UCC medical student, decided after Waterford's exit from the league to inform McGrath that he would be going to Africa for six weeks on a placement and then on to San Francisco.
McGrath fought the good fight to persuade him to stay, managing to get him to delay the decision for 48 hours. But in the end the 21-year-old had his heart set on going and couldn't be turned.
The powerfully-built Devine has been a peripheral figure for the last two years but McGrath had earmarked him for a much more central role in the months ahead.
"It's a career-based decision and he loves to travel. He told me straight, 'I like hurling but I love to travel.' Those were his exact words.
"A free-spirited guy like him, you can't stand in his way and be a hypocrite, but I did plead with him now," recalled the Waterford manager.
"I presented a fairly strong argument that he'd be central to the team's development. I said after the Clare game that it was up to us as a management to give him more time and I didn't do that on the back of knowing he was going away," McGrath added.
"It was time to give him a sustained chance. Against Kilkenny in the league he played very well but we didn't start him against Tipperary because we wanted to create a horses-for-courses approach, that just because you played well one day. He came on for Michael Walsh against Tipp and did well enough, but we didn't play him at all against Dublin."
The Déise boss said he could appreciate if Devine had thought at any stage that he wasn't getting enough game-time but was adamant there was never any conflict over it.
"I can see how he might have thought he wasn't getting a sustained run on the team, but that never came to us, he was a gentleman to deal with when he wasn't getting a run. A thorough professional.
"We wish him well - we might need him in coronary care in a few years! The medical career could take over the hurling career, if I were to guess.
"We trained on the Tuesday (after Galway) and we met after training and he said he was going travelling. I pleaded with him - told him how integral he was to the forward line, that the kick he might get from the performance against Galway might be enough to turn his head in terms of staying and being at the fulcrum of the attack.
"On the Thursday he phoned me to say he'd thought about it for 48 hours, and that he was going.
"As I said, I can't be a hypocrite because a huge amount of what we've tried to do over the last four years has been based on their academic development, what Dan (Shanahan) and all the lads have done. Doing some analysis on it, I think Jack McCaffrey, Ciaran McDonald with the Tipp footballers and Brendan Murphy of Offaly - you can't name too many who get the balance right (between GAA and medicine).
"Tom said it was holistic, it's career-based, he'll go on with UCC and Modeligo, and the rumour mill, the rumblings that he didn't get on with us, that'll continue. But the truth is very different - you saw that in his own words."
Devine issued a statement in April saying it was his last chance to travel.
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