That was until he took the helm of Waterford and realised Sheedy was right.
“He’s a big job in Bank of Ireland finance, I think, and I just remember saying to myself, ‘I’m not sure there would be that amount of time involved’.
“When you were looking at it from the outside at that stage, you were questioning is there that amount of time involved, is it that consuming, etc?
"I think that’s the way it’s gone. It’s trying to deal with it in a manner that does consume your whole life, that’s hard.”
In Dublin yesterday to launch the KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge, which takes place in Dungarvan this September, McGrath combined the trip with Darragh Fives’s appointment at the Sports Injury Clinic in Santry.
McGrath finds himself in Dublin once or twice a week to check up with his capital-based players and may attend Maurice Shanahan’s Central Hearing Committee (CHC) meeting in Croke Park tomorrow evening.
A 60-hour week?
“Yeah. But I don’t want to be making it a crusade here now. But you would. I think there are other managers in that scenario as well where they are putting that amount of time into it, just not publicising it like myself.”
At the end of April last year, McGrath took parental leave so that he could devote himself to preparing Waterford to face Clare.
He has claimed more of his employee rights in early February and won’t return to teaching until September.
Last summer, he spoke to this newspaper about how he had found himself distracted by hurling in the workplace as much as De La Salle and the game have gone hand-in-hand during his time there.
He still feels one is suffering as a result of the other — “I actually found I was becoming poor in the classroom. I just found I wasn’t with it fully in the classroom.
“And, for the lads’ sake, for the young fellas’ sake, I just found I wasn’t teaching as well as perhaps... I love teaching, believe it or not. You mightn’t think it but I love it.
“I just found I wasn’t committed to the teaching as I should have been, whilst I was in class. I know I could be vilified for that, or I could be in trouble for saying that.
“So, I just felt the best scenario for me at the moment is just to be concentrating on the hurling.”
Teaching seems ideal for both manager and player alike but McGrath isn’t too sure.
“I’d say we have 14 teachers in our panel and most of them are saying that’s the only thing they are interested in doing because it frees you up for the summer with three months off.
“I think a lot of it is the old fashioned attitude that having June, July and August is a big advantage to their life development, never mind hurling.
"It gives you an opportunity to maybe pursue a hurling career and do a bit of travelling as well and if they’re cute enough they’ll marry a teacher as well!
“It was a bit of advice my mother gave me years ago, I ignored it by the way!”
As inter-county team spending rises, McGrath would like to see the expenditure explained so that people can understand what is required — “if there was a definite stance on ‘this is what’s happening and this is what’s involved’, managers are entitled to 50 cent a mile as opposed to the players’ 62c a mile. Make it so there’s no ambiguity to it.”
McGrath said the Waterford camp has pledged they won’t get worked up about whatever comes of Sunday’s final round game against Clare after which they could have a quarter-final or a relegation play-off.
“We just decided over the last couple of weeks that whatever we can get out of the game Sunday or the following Sunday, we’re not going to get too hung up on it.
"If we can get some indication that we are going in the right direction towards the summer, that’s what we have spoken about as a group and it’s not that we can’t deal with the pressure of it.”
Tony Kelly opposes McGrath this weekend but he finds himself backing Kelly’s call to get rid of the Munster championship for a league format in the championship.
“I have to be honest in that, I would (agree with him). I’d mix the teams, the two sixes that I’m talking about in the league, I’d have the top four in either get through to quarter-finals – the top four of either group.”
McGrath confirmed Waterford has sought to make a case against Shanahan’s proposed one-match in front of the CHC.
Shanahan appears in front of the CHC to query his straight red card against Cork last Sunday week following a second-half altercation with Dean Brosnan. “We feel there’s merit in an appeal, so we’ll know after that,” said McGrath.
Jamie Barron cracked two ribs against Cork and looks doubtful for both this weekend’s clash with Clare and the immediate game that follows. Brian O’Halloran is recovering from a swollen testicle.
- The KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge takes place at the Gold Coast Golf and Hotel Resort and Dungarvan Golf Club on September 8 and 9. GAA members are invited to represent their GAA clubs on the golf course in the hope of claiming All-Ireland glory.
- Visit www.gaagolf.com for more details.