Waterford manager Derek McGrath has bolstered his backroom team ahead of the All-Ireland senior hurling championship qualifiers with the additions of former playing stars Eoin Murphy and Fergal Hartley.
Murphy, an All-Star at corner back in 2006, has come on board as a selector, while 2002 Munster championship-winning captain Hartley is providing another voice in an advisory role. It is understood that McGrath met with his expanded backroom team yesterday before the Déise returned to training last night following Sunday’s Munster semi-final defeat to Cork.
Waterford will train again tomorrow evening and Saturday, before getting together again on Tuesday and Thursday of next week.
McGrath is anxious to move on following the Cork reverse and clearly feels that more input is needed as his players regroup for an All-Ireland assault through the back door.
Hartley, a former Waterford U21 manager, had been tipped to replace Davy Fitzgerald as boss in 2011 and his addition could see the Ballygunner man groomed as McGrath’s eventual successor.
Hartley travelled on the team bus to Thurles last Sunday, while Murphy was expected to link up with the squad officially last night. Both men bring huge experience to the Waterford set-up, and Hartley was an All-Star himself in 2002.
Hartley won just the one Munster senior medal, in the same year, but Murphy was a four-time winner in 2002, 2004, 2007, and 2010.
McGrath lost the services of former coach Fintan O’Connor following the conclusion of the 2016 campaign, with O’Connor taking over as Kerry senior manager.
Roanmore’s Philip Murphy came on board as a selector alongside McGrath and Dan Shanahan at the start of the year but he quit at the end of March, before Waterford played Galway in the Allianz League quarter-final.
But McGrath has now moved to fill the void, with Murphy to be officially confirmed as a selector.
McGrath was also conscious of providing a balance when introducing Hartley and Murphy to his set-up.
Hartley hails from the east of the county while Murphy, from the Shamrocks club, represents the west.
Meanwhile, Shanahan has revealed that he found it difficult to keep his cool when young Waterford player Conor Gleeson was the subject of alleged verbal abuse from a Cork supporter at the end of last Sunday’s game.
It’s understood that the Cork man took issue with the nature of Gleeson’s tight marking during the game.
Rather than having a go at the man in question, Shanahan says that he attempted to defuse the situation by asking him politely to move away, while also wishing him well ahead of Cork’s Munster final appearance.
But Shanahan admitted: “I found it hard to keep my cool but you have to be the bigger man.
“He was calling him (Gleeson) everything under the sun to be honest with you.
“It’s hard enough to be beaten and then to come off the field and some man roaring abuse at one of our lads.
“They’re quick enough to get the referee off the field but they’re not quick enough to look after the players who fill the stadium.
“It’s one of these things that shouldn’t have happened but did happen. We’re not making an issue of it. I did my best, I didn’t want to get mad at him because we’re bigger than that.
“I just said to him ‘go away, mind your own business’ and I wished him the best of luck in the Munster final.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved