Tuesday 21 August 2018

McGrath: Sacrifices all worth it if we win

Tipp star knows county involvement can be tough but he’s sticking with it

Tipperary and University of Limerick hurler John McGrath at yesterday’s launch of Electric Ireland’s sponsorship of the Higher Education Championships. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Tipperary and University of Limerick hurler John McGrath at yesterday’s launch of Electric Ireland’s sponsorship of the Higher Education Championships. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

In the wake of Kieran Bergin's comments about the demands of inter-county life, his former Tipperary team-mate John McGrath admits he can see both sides of the argument.

Certain sacrifices have to be made. There are events that must dodged and nights out that have to missed. But for McGrath, common sense can carry the day. Drinking and socialising don't have to be left at the door, but there is a time and a place.

"I think most lads know themselves that if you are coming up to a game you are fooling yourself really if you think you are going to get away with going out and then being able to perform," McGrath said.

"You have to look after yourself outside of the game. If not you are probably letting yourself down in that you are not able to perform to your ability. And your team-mates then that are looking after themselves morning, noon and night - you are letting them down as well.

"I think there is just a general understanding between our panel at the moment with what's acceptable and what's not. Once lads stay within reason there's no issue there."

And besides, if Tipperary are celebrating an All-Ireland success later in the year, he'll only have been too happy to pay that price.

"I think you hear of some panels where that does go on (total drink bans), where they are just completely told 'no' like. I think that's wrong too.

"Like, we will get our few nights out here and there every so often, depending on how our training is fixed up and that. Lads had most of Christmas there to enjoy themselves. I was away on holidays once and twice and that. If you plan it well.

"I'm hoping to be involved until next August with Tipp so between last September and now I've done what I want to do and gone where I want to go.


"So I'm happy now that going into the next few months I might miss out on a few small things. But if we are successful next August it won't matter to me."

McGrath acknowledges that his circumstances are more conducive to playing inter-county hurling than most. He's a student in UCC, for whom he'll line out for in the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup. And he agrees it's likely harder for those with families and jobs to make the sacrifices.

"I only live 10 minutes from Thurles so when we're training I don't have a huge commitment in travelling or anything like that. I suppose I'm in college too, so I don't have full-time work. Personally, I've no issue with.

"I suppose Kieran has a wife and he has a job and that to hold down as well. I'm not sure of his full circumstances that way or how under pressure he is, but from a personal point of view I've no issue with it."

Bergin pointed out that the time required to prepare to inter-county standard meant that having a part time job just isn't practical. Work placement helped McGrath out while the GPA are also on hand.

"I'm lucky enough that both of my parents are working and are willing and happy to help me out with things like that. But having that job for the couple of months was a big help for me - I was able to afford my own car and things like that. But some lads mightn't have that opportunity and I can see how it can be a drain on their resources.

"The GPA do help us a lot in that as well. And I think lads just need to know ... if you ask the right people they will help you in any way they can. I suppose it is going to be an ongoing issue for a lot of college students."

Tipperary have opted to sit out the Munster league and will instead head straight into National League action when they face Waterford in Thurles on Saturday, February 3. And McGrath is keen to atone for an unflattering 2017.

"I think I'd be lying if I said we were anything other than disappointed. In the early rounds of the league we seemed to be flying. For whatever reason I don't think it was any complacency or anything, Galway just really blew us out of the water and we didn't seem to properly recover from there.

"We stuttered for the rest of the championship."

Irish Independent

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