Waterford chairman delights as Derek McGrath commits to cause

Waterford chairman Paddy Joe Ryan says there was nothing untoward about the drawn-out process to ratify Derek McGrath for 2018.

It was confirmed on Monday evening the De La Salle man would continue as Waterford hurling manager, 64 days after the county’s All-Ireland final defeat to Galway on September 3.

The county board chairman remained confident McGrath would commit for a fifth year but said the secondary school teacher required time to discuss his future with his family. It was a similar story with selectors Eoin Murphy and Dan Shanahan. McGrath confirmed as much on WLR FM yesterday.

“There was a lot to consider in terms of our own lives. Eoin has a young family, I think they’re moving home over the winter period, and Dan’s daughter recently started college. Their commitment and availability to the cause are very important, to secure that as well. So we’ve committed to the 2018 season. There’s no reason for not committing to anything else. We’ve decided to say to ourselves that we’ll go all in for 2018 and see how it goes,” McGrath said of the one-year extension.

“There has been speculation surrounding impasses, etc. The only real impasse was in our own minds in terms of being able to give it everything we have because it’s important this group receives every ounce of your energy and every ounce of your time. We feel they deserve that.

“It wasn’t a case of keeping anyone on the long finger, it was more about thinking through the whole scenario and trying to sort out stuff.”

Commented Ryan: “We’re absolutely delighted they’re staying on. There was never any question about [the board executive] wanting Derek to stay on, he always had our backing.”

Differences between the board and management over the team holiday appear to have eased somewhat, with the cost of the holiday expected to come in at €220,000.

Croke Park, the county board and Club Déise have all made contributions to this pot, with a number of fundraising events scheduled for the coming weeks to cover the shortfall.

The elder statesmen of the Waterford team, including 34-year-old Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, have yet to announce their intentions for 2018.

McGrath, contrary to reports, is not sure his continued presence on the sideline will sway certain players to remain on board. “I would never speculate or try to create a scenario whereby it becomes dependant on whether a manager stays on or not. People will make their own decisions going forward regardless of that.

“There were a good few of us together on Friday night at the All-Stars. It was hard not to kind of think about the coming year and talk about the coming year. It wasn’t a result of being talked into it in any scenario, you just had to be clear about it in your own mind as to what was going to happen. I think the players are fairly clear as well.”

The Déise boss described as “harrowing” their 2018 Munster SHC schedule — the county play on four consecutive weekends beginning on May 27. Talks have taken place between board top-brass and the county management with a view to the extent of club activity next April.

Board chairman Ryan expects at least two rounds of the hurling championship and one round of club football to be run off before Munster preparations take over.

“We do want our team as best prepared as possible for Munster, but we certainly need to get the club championship up and running. If we were to play three rounds of the SHC in April, some teams would be eliminated in April and we don’t want that either. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have Ballygunner playing eight weeks in a row at the tail end of the season.”

Ryan expressed his frustration with the delay in finishing the Waterford SFC. Since the beginning of August, just six games have taken place. The Nire were due to play Gaultier this evening, but the latter were not agreeable to this as a handful of their players are involved with the Ballygunner hurlers.

The board has now pressed ahead, fixing The Nire and Rathgormack on Sunday. Added to this game two further fixtures are required to determine the fourth semi-finalist. The three teams to have already secured their place in the penultimate round — An Rinn, Stradbally, and Kilrossanty — have not kicked a ball in two months, three in the case of Kilrossanty and An Rinn.

“I feel sorry for the clubs,” said Ryan.


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