McGrath hungry for Munster success

McGrath hungry for Munster success

Cork stand between Waterford and their first Munster SHC title since 2007. A win in Sunday's decider at Semple Stadium would provide a huge boost to the Deise, and the match's significance is not lost on Ken McGrath who is chasing his fourth Munster winners' medal.

The Mount Sion clubman is one of five current players to have started in those previous three wins, with Tony Browne, Eoin Kelly, Seamus Prendergast and John Mullane making up the quintet.

McGrath made his debut back in 1996, a three-point defeat to Tipperary at Walsh Park, and Munster SHC honours did not arrive until 2002.

He has clocked up plenty of mileage in his legs - and has been troubled by a knee cartilage problem of late - but the 32-year-old defender says he still has a positive contribution to make to the Waterford cause.

"The hunger has to be there, when the hunger is gone you'd have to be thinking about retiring to be honest," he said.

"The hunger is everything to keep going, and keep going training and keeping up your life for hurling. That's what we all still do.

"I suppose, at the end of the day, I'm going a long time, and there's a good few of the lads going a long time and that's why we are still there - we feel that we still have a chance to do something good for Waterford.

"That's why we want to keep on trying, and doing our best for."

McGrath scored a point as a late substitute in the Deise's semi-final win over Clare last time out, and is set to make his 49th Championship appearance this weekend.

Waterford manager Davy Fitzgerald has certainly got a good mix of youth and experience in his present panel, with McGrath impressed by the talent coming through from the underage ranks, players such as Noel Connors and Maurice Shanahan.

"Noel is a great bit of stuff. For a young fella his head is very well screwed on. He is a good professional in how he trains and how he does things. He is a very good young fella and he is only one of a few.

"Richie Foley there as well, and Maurice Shanahan and a few others coming through - good young lads.

"There's good structures in Waterford now and there are good young lads coming through."

McGrath has been keeping an eye on Cork's progress in recent weeks, and says that their quarter-final win over Tipperary provides the real indicator as to how the Rebels are shaping up this year, rather than their last game against Limerick.

"It (the semi-final) was probably a tough game for Cork to play to be honest. They were always expected to win, and were probably always going to win," he said.

"It was the Tipp game you would have to be looking at really, that was the real Championship match.

"You would have to be looking at how they played that day. What way they played and what way we can try and counteract them."

In contrast to the Rebels' win over Limerick, Clare proved tricky opposition for Waterford in their last-four date, and McGrath was just glad that his side had enough in them to pull through at the finish.

"It was a tough game, Clare had nothing to lose. There were a lot of Under-21s there from their All-Ireland win last year.

"We were wary of them to be honest - our record against Clare wouldn't be great. We expected a tough game and we got a tough game - they played some lovely hurling.

"I suppose the last 10 minutes was when our experience told for us, and we pulled through."

That semi-final victory was back on the June Bank Holiday Monday, with Cork's clash with Limerick taking place almost a fortnight later.

McGrath says that while more competitive action would have been ideal, the Waterford players have tried to make the best of their time on the training pitch.

"We had a five-week break from the Clare game, to play in the Munster final; which is probably not ideal, but we will have to come out of it.

"I know we are after training hard in the last few weeks, we'll have to come out and try and be fresh.

"I suppose one game under our belt is not ideal, but what can you do? The straightest way to a Munster final is less games," he added.

More in this Section

All-Ireland minor champions return as David Power names 38-man Tipperary football panelAll-Ireland minor champions return as David Power names 38-man Tipperary football panel

Owen Farrell says England duty is good news for Saracens playersOwen Farrell says England duty is good news for Saracens players

Dual star O’Hara goes on trial with Hawthorn as McShane arrives in AustraliaDual star O’Hara goes on trial with Hawthorn as McShane arrives in Australia

Federer and Djokovic ease into Australian Open third roundFederer and Djokovic ease into Australian Open third round


Lifestyle

It turns out 40 is no longer the new 30 – a new study says 47 is the age of peak unhappiness. The mid-life crisis is all too real, writes Antoinette Tyrrell.A midlife revolution: A new study says 47 is the age of peak unhappiness

More From The Irish Examiner