Déise hurlers wanted to play in Walsh Park, says McGrath

Waterford will have to play their 'home' games in the Munster SHC at neutral venues

Derek McGrath has revealed the Waterford camp were strongly opposed to their home games being moved from Walsh Park but elected not to publicise their views.

The board deemed the Waterford city venue wasn’t available due to unfeasibly reduced capacity and made arrangements to stage their two games scheduled for Walsh Park against Tipperary and Cork in the Gaelic Grounds and Semple Stadium respectively.

Speaking during an extensive interview with the Irish Examiner to be published on Saturday, McGrath says he didn’t want the loss of home venue to be a negative.

We could have created a media furore about our home grounds and we chose not to, as players and management. It’s well documented that we would have had the best advantage against Tipperary and Cork in Walsh Park, but I think when you come out and whinge about it and you moan, it puts unwarranted attention on yourself. You almost have to go with the flow.

Contrary to pundits like Jackie Tyrrell who believe Walsh Park wouldn’t have suited Waterford’s style, McGrath argues their familiarity with the place would have benefitted his side. “I can see the points that are made but I still believe as management and players that if you have the opportunity to prepare your team in a place where you know you’re going to be playing, it’s an advantage.

“Say for instance, we’ve had a five or six-week run-in, if you have that amount of time on a field you know exactly and can simulate everything to the degree that it becomes second nature, that’s the advantage.

People are probably basing the Walsh Park idea on the fact we’ve played well in Croke Park when we’ve been there and Thurles and they are wide pitches but a reduced capacity would have been the preferred option for us.

“When you’re away from home, it can build up a siege mentality and we’re fourth or fifth with the bookies and there’s a bit of freedom in our mindset so it works both ways. But we would prefer to be in Walsh Park. We weren’t going to make a big deal out of it because all of a sudden you’re making excuses and we haven’t made many excuses over the five years. We want to keep that tangent going.”

Starting with their visit to Cusack Park on Sunday, continuing the following weekend when they face Tipperary in the Gaelic Grounds and returning there on June 10 to face Limerick, Waterford will set up their weekend base in the Treaty City. “We played Clare in Ennis and Galway in Salthill last year and we based ourselves in the Radisson (hotel) in Limerick. We will be there the night before the Clare game this year. It was a good base for us and that’s where we’ll be for three weeks in a row.

“We have mixed memories of the place as we were beaten by Galway but won against Clare and the year before we were beaten badly afterwards by Tipp in the Gaelic Grounds. There’s nothing magic about our arrangements but we’re using it as our base the morning of the game and after the game.

“People talk about the importance of recovery. It’s huge but for all the planning you still have to allow the psychological swing that can come with a loss or a victory and ensuring that you’re almost at zero all the time.”

For the second season in a row, Waterford have had to wait to make their championship bow. “We were the last team out in Munster last year too, June 18, and we all know what happened that day (lost to Cork). We’re trying to ensure we’re not as flat as that, keeping the reins on but keeping the pace what the others were exposed to last weekend. That’s the worry but also the challenge.”

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