'Hugely emotional' McGrath calls time
Derek McGrath will today outline why he will not return for a sixth season in charge of the Waterford hurlers.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Eamon Keane - to be aired on WLR this morning - McGrath recalls how he informed the squad of his decision in the aftermath of the Déise's defeat to Cork on Sunday. "I've thought long and hard about it and I have made the decision to step away now after five years at the helm," McGrath says.
In a statement issued last night through Waterford GAA, McGrath confirmed his resignation "after five thoroughly enjoyable years working with the most committed, dedicated, honest and genuine players to represent our county."
McGrath opted against making the decision public after the game so as not to take away from the occasion of Michael 'Brick' Walsh's record-breaking 74th appearance in the championship.
"I didn't make an announcement immediately after the match in Thurles. We went to the Horse and Jockey in the privacy of our own circle. I was conscious that it was Brick's day as well and not to take from it. It was huge.
"We had a bit of a reception for him in the dressing-room afterwards and we were waiting there because he was signing autographs for about two hours for him to come in and give him a standing ovation and a presentation so I was conscious of not sharing that moment."
Describing the decision as "hugely emotional", McGrath left the door open for a return to management in the future: "It's not that I have no more to give but I'm certainly saturated in terms of what I have given and I don't think there is any more I can give at this given time and I think I need recharging. Maybe a sabbatical from it and not to rule out going back to it in the future but a period of recharging."
McGrath admitted that given how little luck has come their way in 2018 in terms of injuries and the now infamous ‘ghost goal’ that was awarded against them in the draw with Tipperary, there was some temptation to return for a sixth season.
“Over the last few weeks I had a number of approaches from players given what had happened with the injury situation and the ill-luck with the ‘ghost goal’ and the home and away games and all the things that were stacked in favour of us saying, ‘Jesus, we’ll give it one more go’.
“And I did weigh it up but I only did it temporarily… I got texts from Nickey English and well-known people in the GAA world saying ‘you should give it another year, you got no luck’. So there are a lot of excuses there.
“I had a 15pc possibility in my head of saying yes I think they are right, I’ll go back. But my mind was more leaning towards needing a break and returning to the classroom as well. I’m looking forward to that.”
Elsewhere, Tipperary have confirmed that Brendan Maher is set to undergo surgery on his right knee after he picked up an injury in the Premier’s Munster SHC defeat to Clare.
Maher was replaced late in the day by Willie Connors as Tipperary saw their championship hopes for 2018 go up in smoke.
And yesterday Tipperary confirmed that the former All-Ireland winning captain is set for a spell on the sidelines until 2019.
“Following an injury received in the Munster Championship match against Clare, Tipperary’s Brendan Maher will undergo surgery next month on the ACL in his right knee and hopes to return to action early next year,” read a statement.
“We send best wishes to Brendan for a full recovery.”