Sport Hurling

Wednesday 13 December 2017

'No excuses' as Derek McGrath insists Austin Gleeson will 'bounce back'

Waterford manager Derek McGrath Photo: Sportsfile
Waterford manager Derek McGrath Photo: Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Waterford manager Derek McGrath has backed Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson to bounce back after he was substituted during yesterday's defeat to Cork.

McGrath also insisted that there were no excuses from the Déise camp following their five-point reverse in Thurles.

Gleeson, who had scored two fine points but cut a peripheral figure for the most part, was replaced by Jake Dillon in the 63rd minute, to ironic cheers from Cork fans massed on the Town End terrace.

McGrath conceded that there was an argument to leave the Mount Sion man on until the end of the game, but suspected that the 21-year-old was "fatigued."

McGrath explained: "That was the argument we had - is he someone capable of doing something special near the end of the game, of course he is.

"But with the day that was in it, the conditions, we erred on the side of fresh legs as opposed to someone who's trying hard but isn't quite flowing.

"No different to what we did with him in the last few years, we gave Austin a free role and hoped Colm Spillane would follow him.

"He did, we hoped space would open up - but that's sport. That's the reality of what can happen.

"Austin will bounce back. He's 21, he'll have more good days in the Waterford jersey.

"I was more delighted with his conduct when he came off the field, encouraging the team."

McGrath added: "There were other guys who struggled there today, other key performers struggled, without naming names.

"Austin worked hard for the team for the duration he was on the field without it absolutely flowing for him.

"We'd be hopeful Austin will regroup like all of us and come good for the qualifiers."

A wholly honest McGrath also rejected the suggestion that an eleven-week break since Waterford's last competitive outing played a part - and refused to apportion any blame to match referee Barry Kelly.

He said: "I'd love to cling to that (lay-off) but I'd be more pragmatic.

"I thought we were chasing it, straight down the line. We created chances but they were bitty chances.

"We didn't do what we're supposed to, and the management are probably culpable there - I just felt we were chasing the game."

Waterford appeared to have two strong penalty shouts - both on Maurice Shanahan - that were waved away by Kelly.

But McGrath insisted: "I wouldn't really have a problem with the way the game was refereed.

"I want to be consistent with our narrative from last year, and I think the day is gone when Waterford people are on the way home blaming referees.

"We only have ourselves to blame for the fact that we didn't play well enough and the fact that Cork were that bit better than us."

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