Wednesday 18 September 2019

'That platform wasn't the right platform' - Derek McGrath regrets 'bitter' analysis on Sunday Game

Derek McGrath admits he has “a muddled mind on it” about whether he’d like a return to the Waterford manager’s job. Photo: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
Derek McGrath admits he has “a muddled mind on it” about whether he’d like a return to the Waterford manager’s job. Photo: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Derek McGrath was on a plane to Fuengirola in southern Spain the morning after causing a stir on 'The Sunday Game' when vehemently defending the sweeper system in the wake of Wexford's All-Ireland semi-final defeat and he knew what lay around the corner.

The former Waterford manager had a feeling there would be repercussions and eventually turned off his phone in Spain, such was the volume of messages about his commentary alongside Dónal Óg Cusack.

Cusack, in particular, ruffled all sorts of feathers with his remark that criticism of the sweeper system - which McGrath employed as Déise boss - is "part of the last remnants of British culture on these islands".

What are McGrath's feelings on those comments in hindsight?

Embracing

"There has been an attitude sometimes that has dominated society whereby people are put down if they are innovating, that it's a kind of an off-the-wall idea. It's something we need to be better at embracing, if you like, and changing," McGrath said.

"But not changing to the point where I think I am a guru and I know everything. I hate that perception. I hate that perception that there's us and them. That's not the case. I definitely learned from it. That platform wasn't the right platform for it."

McGrath is disappointed that he allowed "lingering hurt" of the negative talk about Waterford's style of play, which had built up during his tenure, to come to the surface.

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"Was there a self-indulgence? I think there was, but it was based on an irksome attitude.

"I don't think it was the platform for it and I let a little lingering hurt dictate what I was saying. I didn't want it to sound bitter, but I'd say it did. I'll learn from that."

Former Clare boss Ger Loughnane pulled no punches when branding Cusack and McGrath as "muppets" who promoted their own "pathetic egos" but McGrath takes great exception to such commentary.

"If it borders on personal abuse, I think it shouldn't be accepted," McGrath said about the words of a manager he greatly admires.

Aside from training first year hurlers in De La Salle College, McGrath had no involvement with teams this year but he reiterated his hunger to get involved again, although the current Waterford vacancy after Páraic Fanning's resignation may have come too soon.

"I have a muddled mind really on it. I'm kinda saying to myself 'Jesus, is it too early to go back there?' he said.

"You have no divine right to step back in there anyway, so it's not a case of saying, 'I'll go back in there', there's other things to consider. You get this little probe and you say you'd love another cut at it. That's where my mind is at.

"I said I'd be as up front about it as possible. I'm not saying I'm not thinking about it, but there's parts of me saying no, there's 85 per cent of me saying 'no, it's too early to go back, it's unfair even to go back' and then there's 15pc of me saying 'I might have a look at that'."

As regards the possibility of working outside of Waterford, with the likes of Offaly and Cork, would he consider it if approached?

"They'd all interest me, it's just I'd be in the 20 per cent category of a) would I be considered, and b) would I have the energy or the know-how to do it, I suppose. I'm open to it to but I'm only partially open to it," McGrath said.

"I'd be leaning towards not getting involved this year but something could change my mind very easily."

Derek McGrath is an Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards Panel ambassador member for 2019. #GAAThisIsMajor

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