Monday 19 November 2018

Derek McGrath may yet stay after the 'carnage' of Waterford's lost year

Waterford manager Derek McGrath. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Waterford manager Derek McGrath. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Derek McGrath is likely to continue as Waterford manager for another year despite their 2018 campaign lasting just 21 days.

The De La Salle man remained non-committal after yesterday's loss to Cork, but did indicate that the extraordinary misfortune that afflicted his team might have encouraged him to stay for a sixth campaign.

Waterford were ravaged by injuries, losing three more players during the course of yesterday's game, and McGrath reflected afterwards: "I think the last few weeks... I'm not going to say they changed my mind, but I was just conscious today of giving 'Brick' centre-stage, giving the team centre-stage.

"Look, I'll give myself some time. I don't have a story for you today on it. I will give myself some time, talk to my family."

Ripped

The spine of Waterford's team was ripped out through injury, with McGrath commenting: "I'm slow to paint ourselves as victims, but the great Kilkenny team of the Noughties, if you took Mick Kavanagh, Tommy Walsh, Jackie Tyrrell, Brian Hogan and JJ (Delaney) out of that team, I don't think they'd be the force they were.

"I'm not saying our lads are as good as those guys, but they're very important to us - Tadhg (de Búrca), Noel (Connors), Darragh Fives. Barry Coughlan is the first name on our team-sheet, Austin Gleeson is clearly playing with a leg injury and Pauric Mahony with a broken hand.

"They're doing it for the absolute belief in the cause and the jersey. There's something in that."

Asked if he felt Waterford had been given a "proper shot" at this Championship, McGrath was impressively sanguine.

"It's hard to know. We planned fairly meticulously, planned everything for the 21 days, the four games, maybe over-planned.

"To be greeted with such carnage, in terms of what happened in Ennis (their first game), it set the tone for the rest of the weeks if you like."

Cork manager John Meyler paid tribute to the character shown by his team, given they went 70 minutes of this game without having the lead.

"We've reached a Munster final, that's it in a nutshell," he reflected.

"But that performance today wouldn't do. The last 10 minutes were very good, but our decision-making was poor at times. The build-up to the game was quite difficult. Waterford were out of it, would they turn up? Were they going to play younger fellas and subs? Derek and Dan (Shanahan) deserve great credit for that, but the bottom line is that it's five o'clock now and we're in a Munster final."

Michael 'Brick' Walsh's record 74th Championship appearance lasted 55 minutes, the great man substituted after setting up a goal for Tommy Ryan.

"For me, he stands up there will all the great Waterford sportspeople," said McGrath. "For his pure humility and warrior-like qualities, but for his guile and cunning as well. And you know, he could go again!"

Irish Independent

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