McGrath draws positives from new-look side

"The future is now!", so said Waterford manager Derek McGrath after this, his first championship game at the helm, having witnessed several debutants perform superbly well in Semple Stadium yesterday.

McGrath draws positives from new-look side

Defenders Tadhg Burke and Barry Coughlan both did well, midfielder Eddie Barrett was also in flying form until an unfortunate twist (literally — his knee) saw him out of the game and possibly out for the season, while up front both Colin Dunford and Austin Gleeson both impressed.

In fact Gleeson did even more than that — with a goal for the ages to put Waterford nine points clear (44m), along with a classy pointed sideline and an effortless point to end the first half, the Mount Sion teenager stole the show.

“It’s great but I’ve seen him do it at schools’ level. In fairness, he dominated the minor championship from centre-back (last year, Waterford won the All-Ireland) and ultimately he’ll go down the Ken McGrath route of ending up centre-back or wing-back, because he’s just a fine hurler.

“He’s a very level-headed young-fella with a lovely family behind him. Austin — we have to get under him at times, he’s so relaxed, very languid in terms of his style. We’re delighted for him.”

It was more than Austin of course, more than just the youngsters in fact; this was a mix of three different generations of Waterford hurler and McGrath and his management team did well to get them to the pitch of this game yesterday.

“We’re happy with the young lads — you’re looking at two different college generations, the De La Salle lads that I was involved with myself (managed them to two All-Ireland titles, 2007/08), then the Waterford Colleges generation of Tadhg Burke, Colin Dunford (won the All-Ireland last year) — Austin was inside in De La Salle for that.

“I’m fusing those two generations with Michael Walsh, Jamie Nagle, Seamie Prendergast and those. That’s where it’s at, combining those three different groups. It’s not taxing, but we’re delighted with how it went today.”

Almost every reason to be happy too — almost.

“Mixed emotions; we haven’t had a chance to see the decision at the end of the game (free on Nash, the aforementioned Gleeson lucky to escape a second yellow for a late tackle.).

“We’re happy given the run-in to the game in terms of all the much-documented injuries we have. We didn’t play to our best but we gave it everything; we were free, we were loose, that’s what we were hoping for in the build-up.

“We got absolutely everything in terms of effort and you can’t ask for more. Obviously the games will go to and fro in terms of momentum; we found it hard to sustain it in the middle period of the second half and ultimately that counted against us.”

Waterford were without several front-line players before yesterday’s game — and McGrath offered a mixed injury update afterwards: “Eddie Barrett dislocated his knee so that’s his season over. Darragh Fives and Stephen Molumphy aren’t too far away, they trained on Friday night. Jamie Barron, I don’t think he’ll make two weeks’ time (replay) but the rest are probably long-term casualties in terms of a couple of months. Stephen Daniels, Philip Mahony out for the year.

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