Saturday 24 February 2018

Vincent Hogan: Look at the roll of honour - how can Waterford fans complain about the style of hurling?

23 July 2017; Waterford manager Derek McGrath and selector Dan Shanahan celebrate a late point during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Wexford and Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
23 July 2017; Waterford manager Derek McGrath and selector Dan Shanahan celebrate a late point during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Wexford and Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Waterford fans were hailing their team after Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final win over Cork but Derek McGrath's tactics haven't been universally popular in the county since he took over in 2013.

McGrath's use of a sweeper system has been widely debated, both this season and in years past, but it has succeeded in helping the Deise into their first All-Ireland final since 2008 as they look to win the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the first time since 1959.

Interestingly, Irish Independent GAA correspondent Colm Keys says that opinion on the Waterford system was divided in the county as recently as the week before the Cork semi-final, with a former inter-county hurler telling him that supporters were split 50/50.

"I was speaking to Stephen Frampton last week and he suggested that the county, even though they were in a third All-Ireland semi-final in-a-row, were probably split 50/50 over the way they play," Keys said on this week's episode of The Throw-In, Independent.ie's GAA podcast.

Subscribe and listen to The Throw-In podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

"Well I wonder last night what the other 50% think of the style of play that has been re-imposed at the latter end of this championship? They are in an All-Ireland final and it has clearly worked, and it is clearly the system that suits them best."

Irish Independent chief sports writer Vincent Hogan took up the point, wondering how Waterford fans can complain about the team's style of play since it has taken them to the verge of All-Ireland glory.

"It is pretty extraordinary really," Hogan said.

"Derek McGrath, when he took the job four years ago, looked at what he had and he cut his cloth to suit that. I think it is extraordinary when you think that the pressure at home in Waterford, and the negativity towards the team in Waterford, has been such, that I think he lost his nerve in June by abandoning it briefly. When they abandoned it in the first half against Cork, they looked open. They looked really vulnerable.

"What we saw yesterday, is that they have got this system to a fine art.

"Derek got his match-ups right and he proved a point. It is extraordinary when you look at the roll of honour, the All-Ireland roll of honour and the Munster roll of honour, that Waterford people could be bellyaching about the style of hurling, because yesterday we saw a system that worked to a tee."

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