John McGrath has painted a different picture of life in the Tipperary senior hurling camp to the bleak portrait painted by Kieran Bergin.
In a newspaper interview, Bergin, who stepped away from the panel last year, claimed players were treated like children and told to “basically give up drink for the entire year”.
McGrath, though, said Tipperary’s attitude towards socialising is healthy.
“You hear of some panels where that does go on (drinking bans), where they are just completely told ‘no’, like. I think that’s wrong, too. We will get our few nights out here and there every so often, depending on how our training is fixed up and that. Lads had most of Christmas there to enjoy themselves. I was away on holidays for a while. I’m hoping to be involved until next August with Tipp, so between last September and now I’ve done what I want to do and gone where I want to go. So, I’m happy now that, going into the next few months, I might miss out on a few small things, but if we are successful next August, it won’t matter to me.”
Bergin said some younger players faced financial difficulties due to their commitment to the game. McGrath accepts it is an issue, but he has little to complain about living close to Thurles in Loughmore and being a student.
“I suppose Kieran has a wife and he has a job and that to hold down, as well. I’m not sure of his full circumstances or how under pressure he is, but from a personal point of view, I’ve no issue with it. I made that choice myself and I know what’s entailed. If I don’t want to be there, I don’t have to be.”
As McGrath prepares for a Fitzgibbon Cup campaign with UL and a Division 1A with Tipp, he knows freshness will be vital, given the number of league games in such a short space of time and then four Munster championship games in as many weekends.
“If you are not in good condition going in and not well rested it is easy to pick up injuries if you are over-training. Getting the balance right will make a massive difference. There’s no way you are able to put out the same 15 every week, so you will need a big panel, with lads changing every week.”
McGrath is open to the Division 1 final being played under lights, even if his brother Noel and manager Michael Ryan aren’t.
“The quality of the lights in Thurles are so good that sometimes it doesn’t matter, but I know Noel would have no time for playing under lights... he just doesn’t like it for whatever reason. Everyone has their own opinion and it depends on how lads adapt.”
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