Derek McGrath seeking the green light for squad number policy

Derek McGrath has acknowledged Waterford have been operating a squad number policy this summer and would like to see the idea given the official green light by the GAA.

Waterford aren’t breaking any rules but have been taken an unconventional approach to the numbering of their players this season.

For example, Maurice Shanahan has been starting wearing No 21 while in recent games Tom Devine (No 9) and Brian Halloran (No 13) have started games on the bench.

Match programmes don’t accommodate the changes but the team Waterford have released on the Friday before matches have revealed the actual starting team with the players’ corresponding jerseys.

“We don’t pick the team until Wednesday or Thursday night,” said McGrath. “There are new rules there this year that the team has to be there at Wednesday morning at 9 o’clock.

“Technically, our 26 are supposed to be in on Tuesday night. We don’t pick the team (then), we just pick the 26 and see how will fellas be after Tuesday night’s training on Wednesday or Thursday. The 1 to 15 doesn’t allow for that. That’s not looking for excuses. We’ve been operating a policy whereby a fella has a set number and just does with that. I know people mightn’t like it; it’s not a traditionalist’s approach but it’s our way of doing it in management.”

McGrath believes the practice should become the norm at inter-county level. “Not soccer or rugby but the way the game has gone in terms of positioning I think numbers don’t mean a huge amount.”

McGrath said Noel Connors should be fit for tomorrow week’s All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny after being forced off with a dead leg against Dublin last Sunday. The Passage man has been undergoing cyrotherapy sessions in Whites Hotel in Wexford. “It looks like it’s going to clear up. He hasn’t trained properly yet, he did a light bit of running last night (Thursday) and we’re training again this evening so we’re hopeful he’ll do something.

“He won’t be in contact until next Tuesday, but we’re very optimistic that he’ll be ready. He tried to run it off initially but the feeling with a dead leg is that if you keep moving, normally you’d be able to run it off. But it was a fairly severe one and he was struggling to sprint and if he couldn’t sprint, there was no place for him. So he put his own hand up. Basically, he had to come off, but we’ll be very hopeful.”

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