Derek McGrath and Waterford regroup after painful defeat

Spotlight moves to the Munster semi-final against Clare on the June bank holiday weekend

Waterford’s Austin Gleeson scores a point during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final replay at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Waterford’s Austin Gleeson scores a point during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final replay at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Ken Sutton/INPHO

 

For Waterford manager Derek McGrath, the next four weeks will present a diametrically opposite challenge to the one he faced 12 months ago.

Having become the first county from Division One B to win the league, after defeating a Cork side that had spent the campaign in the top flight, McGrath had to send his team out against the same opponents in the Munster semi-finals.

This time around, Waterford have lost the league final to promoted rivals Clare, who they will take on in this year’s Munster semi-final on the June bank holiday weekend.

Upper hand

Former All-Ireland winner Seánie McGrath was a selector with Cork up to the end of last season and he says the league final had a major influence on the championship match.

“For us it was such a resounding defeat that it definitely affected us. We had had a great semi-final win in Nowlan Park, coming back against Dublin, and it was great for morale and there was a bit of spice in that with Ger [Cunningham, former Cork coach] in charge of them, and we genuinely didn’t anticipate defeat in the final coming the way it did – not a chance. We were coming into it in good form and our key players playing well. I don’t think the defeat itself affected us, but the manner of it really knocked us back.

“It will be different in this instance because the teams were so close that I don’t think it will have a major impact on who wins, but it could be a right battle and there could be a bit of needle in it.

Second Captains

“I can’t see the league final having an effect on the morale in each camp. I don’t think it will be a downer for Waterford. There’s loads of nuggets in there for Derek McGrath that will keep the buzz going.

“They should have seen the game out and they should have had a free, and they’ve players to come back too.”

The namesakes know each other for a long time since being in opposition at minor level in 1993. During the 1990s they wore the same jersey, as UCC dominated the Fitzgibbon Cup later in the decade, both featuring on the 1997 winning side.

“Derek was in a way a functional hurler but he always did the right thing on the ball and he was a great character. Him and Dave Bennett [another Waterford player] and myself were great friends.”

It was noticeable after the match on Sunday that Waterford’s management very much soft-pedalled the controversial decision by referee Diarmuid Kirwan not to award a free to centrefielder Jamie Barron in the same passage of play that seconds later led to an injury-time free for Tony Kelly, which the player himself converted from 90 metres.

McGrath isn’t surprised.

“To be fair it wasn’t just on Sunday. Derek is always very gracious in defeat and he understands the importance of creating the right environment and emphasising the positivity.

“That’s why there was no big deal over the free. He knows anyway that although it would have been great to put Waterford’s first back-to-back leagues together, he’ll be judged on the championship.”

As a player with Cork, McGrath also experienced the pitfalls of the crossover between league and championship. When the team won the 1998 league, they defeated then All-Ireland champions Clare in the semi-final. But a little over a month later the tables were turned decisively and in those pre-qualifier days, Cork’s season was over in June.

Euphoria

LimerickJohnny Clifford

“Clare did a job on us in that league semi-final and although we were still in it with about 15 to go in the championship match, it was Clare all over; they just blew us away. They were like Kilkenny back then.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.