Yesterday’s five-point victory over Dublin secured Waterford’s first All-Ireland semi-final appearance since 2011 and when asked if it would have been a disappointment not to reach Croke Park after such an encouraging start to the year, McGrath replied:
“Myself, Dan [Shanahan] and Fintan [O’Connor] would have discussed and spoken about that ourselves, and we did our best not to let that filter through to the players. Privately, we allowed ourselves to say the perception would be ‘flatter to deceive’ that when it was really put up to them by Tipperary and Dublin, the chinks in the armoury were found. There was an element of that driving us as a management, but we’d never say that to the players.
“We deliberately didn’t say it to the players, say it was an all-or-nothing approach. The psychological approach wasn’t to say everything is on the line here.
“It’s good to be able to get a result based on not bringing that kind of mindset into it.
“I am delighted for the lads and their families, they put so much into it. We didn’t feel there were psychological scars from the Munster final and that proved to be the case. But it is great to be able to come back and get the train back on the tracks.”
The first half produced 25-scores, 12 to Waterford, but McGrath insisted there had been no straying from their counter-attacking system.
“I think Dublin left a lot of space in the first half and it looked a bit more conventional than it was. It was 0-13 to 0-12 at half-time and when you are the first game in a quarter-final double-bill, sometimes it takes until the second-half for the atmosphere to come to life. I think when Shane [Bennett’s] goal went in, the whole thing just took off from there.
“I think people in the aftermath of this display will look at the Tipperary display a little closer. With 67 minutes gone in the Tipperary game, there were three points in it - and we felt there was a lot of good elements to our play in the Munster final.
“It’s a massive challenge [Kilkenny], but one we are looking forward to.”
They’ve travelled a fair distance since they last locked horns with the Cats – Kilkenny winning their 2014 league meeting by 20 points.
“I think that is a good parallel to bring forward given that was the last competitive game we played against Kilkenny, and we were humbled by 20-points or something.
“We had some fairly strong words to say in the dressing-room after that, not looking for faults, but just looking at what direction we wanted to go. And we had an idea as a management, myself and Dan in particular, where we wanted to go into the future. So it is a massive achievement that the boys are in an All-Ireland semi-final.”