'I know exactly what Páraic is going through', says McGrath on Waterford crisis speculation

'I know exactly what Páraic is going through', says McGrath on Waterford crisis speculation

Former Waterford manager Derek McGrath has rejected claims that the county’s senior hurling team are in crisis.

Without a win from three games, their Munster Championship will be over with defeat to Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night.

Speaking on the Irish Examiner Championship podcast, McGrath recalled the “debate, conjecture and speculation” he encountered during his debut season in charge of the county and he insisted that all is not negative in terms of developing for the future in the county.

While accepting Sunday’s loss to Limerick was “a complete capitulation”, he remarked: “The easy thing is to point fingers and play the blame game.

"I go back to my own first year in charge of Waterford - we were relegated from Division 1A and were beaten by Wexford in Nowlan Park in the Championship.

"I lost a couple of selectors at the end of the year so I know exactly what Páraic is going through at the moment in terms of debate, conjecture and speculation.

“It is a difficult scenario for everybody and Páraic said after the Limerick game there would be soul-searching.

“And there has to be soul-searching and the first point of any soul-searching begins with yourself and it will with Páraic.

“That’s the reality with any manager. I remember we played Laois in my first year in a qualifier and they had a benefit match for Ken (McGrath) the night before and a guy came up to me and said, ‘Will you sign this before you’re sacked tomorrow night?’

Waterford manager Paraic Fanning shakes hands with Limerick forward Shane Dowling. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Waterford manager Paraic Fanning shakes hands with Limerick forward Shane Dowling. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

“I remember going into those games with absolute dread and not really enjoying them so that’s the difficulty now, the complete over-reaction.

“That’s not to say you can’t do your analysis on your own performance and it is the same with the players.

“I know those fellas, they’re spirited fellas. They don’t need to be told that they need to be held accountable - they’ll be looking at themselves.

“They’ll be saying, ‘I could have done a, b, and c’ as will the management. It becomes an overall review and that’s the normal process. The reality is we just need to regroup.”

McGrath also rejected suggestions that Waterford are now in danger of following Offaly in tumbling down the hurling rankings.

After being relegated to Division 2A in March, the Faithful County are close to dropping from the Joe McDonagh Cup to the Christy Ring Cup.

"I don’t agree with the analogies or comparisons between ourselves and Offaly," said McGrath.

“I don’t agree with that because we have a strong school structure - we (De La Salle College) were in the Harty Cup semi-final this year and were beaten by Midleton.

"The Waterford minor team, despite being beaten in a couple of matches, have performed really well. I don’t think there is as much doom and gloom as people think.”

McGrath admitted he was uneasy about criticising the current set-up, especially when things had been going well earlier in the season.

However, he felt the positions that Austin Gleeson, Tadhg de Búrca, and Michael Walsh were deployed in could have been retained from his time.

“What was never asked was why Brick was playing as well as he was. Why Austin was playing as well as he is.

"Because we always felt we were a very proactive team tactically and people were wondering what we were going to do and that was on the back of the realisation that we needed to do it.

“Sometimes you come from the outside and say, ‘I’m going to change everything’ instead of saying, ‘We’ll keep a, b, and c - let’s tweak it’.

"If I had a different set of forwards in front of me, you’re going to go about it in a different way. That’s the key to any management.”

Hoping the poor form will serve more as “a reality check” for Waterford, McGrath had feared too much expectation was being placed on the players.

“In the winter of 2017, there was almost a perception that ‘you were only a goal off it, you were so close, there’s so much potential, there’s so much talent’.

"Potential and talent are only distant relations of what’s needed when it comes to a war zone.”

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