Saturday 24 March 2018

'Waterford gave everything inside their soul' - Derek McGrath

Waterford manager Derek McGrath during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Kilkenny and Waterford
Waterford manager Derek McGrath during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Kilkenny and Waterford
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Waterford manager Derek McGrath has accepted that his side may have "retreated too early" as they were caught on the line by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final.

McGrath felt his side were possibly "tiring" in the closing stages as Kilkenny struck for a late goal from Walter Walsh to eventually force a replay.

"We stepped up, but we came back, I suppose," he said of their formation as they went conventional for long spels of the game until near the end.

"That's what we were trying to do all day and I think there was a little bit of fatigue crept in there with 63 or 64 minutes gone, I thought.

"The fatigue was creeping in with key players. So you're balancing key players being fatigued against that key part of the game where you need those fellas.

"And I think that was the kind of conundrum for us on the line. We had a few really key players that were firing and were doing well. But they were tiring. And I think that was the reason we didn't make the sub between the 66th and 75th minute," he said.

"I think there came a stage where we were clinging to it that you could probably label the fact that we retreated too early, if you like. But very hard to control the match day, especially when you're on the cusp of 60 years of hurt being evaporated.

McGrath described the Waterford performance as "heroic" and "epic."

"They gave everything inside their soul. Any time you have that, there's a level of congratulations that is merited, if you like.

"There's obviously a small tinge of disappointment based on being in the position to win the game, if you like. So I don't believe in hiding disappointment for the sake of psychological advantages that will be gained the next day.

"I think we're disappointed we didn't close it out. But we're not portraying any bad body language by doing that in my opinion. We feel we've a different Waterford team that's able to recover. The general consensus will be that Kilkenny don't lose replays, that you don't get a second chance. So we'll be coming in as much under the radar as we did today."

McGrath feels their preparations were perfect, coming off the back of a 10-point win over Wexford that few gave them any credit for.

"I felt the 10-point victory almost kind of was dismissed as a non-event if you like. A, I thought that was harsh on Wexford, and also I thought it was an ideal scenario for us coming into the game.

"It was Croke Park and we could have right cut, as such, but yet be clever as well at times. I thought everything was set up and I thought our preparation was excellent.

"We came up to Carton House yesterday and just got together as a group even though, in 2008, Waterford went up the night before it was labelled as a mistake.

"We just felt the young group, myself included, on Saturday when you're together you're less nervous. You're kind of together as a group and I thought that worked well. We put everything into it.

"I think that's the probably hard part to take. To replicate that and simulate that again."

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