‘Advantage still with keepers’ says Derek McGrath

Waterford manager Derek McGrath believes goalkeepers will still retain an advantage from penalties — even when the proposal from the Hurling 2020 report to have a one-against-one situation is on trial during pre-season competition.

McGrath paid tribute to the work carried out by the review committee, chaired by former Tipperary boss Liam Sheedy, but is still backing goalkeepers to come out on top in the majority of penalty shots.

McGrath said: “I was at the review committee meeting in Portlaoise and they had an outstanding panel of people put together, first and foremost, with a real knowledge of the game and in touch with the game.

“What they’ve done is recognised that there’s not too much to change, which is the key thing. But what I raised on the night, I stand by it and while I could be proven wrong, is that goalkeepers will still save 60% of penalties in a one-on-one situation.

“Some goalkeepers view the guys on their left and right as a nuisance.

“Now I realise that a lot of work and research went into it, with Shane Dowling (Limerick) and Joe Canning (Galway) brought down to Thurles to trial it but it’s a different story in the white-hot atmosphere of championship. I still think it’s advantage to the goalkeeper.”

McGrath is looking forward to next Sunday’s opening fixture of the season, when Waterford welcome Limerick IT to Carriganore for a preliminary round Waterford Crystal Cup fixture.

The onus will be very much on experimentation, McGrath confirmed, after he opted for wholesale change to the Déise squad for the 2015 season.

And McGrath insisted: “We 200% have total belief in what we’re doing, without coming across as ruthless and dictatorial.

“We’re empowering the players — this is their team and they’ll drive it on.

“The middle age group, from Kevin Moran down to Pauric Mahony and Darragh Fives, are the leaders.

“This wasn’t done without any thought process and the main beneficiaries might be the U21s and trying to get them up to speed for championship hurling.”

McGrath has revealed Colin Dunford, who burst onto the senior inter-county scene last year, will miss the opening rounds of the Allianz Hurling League after undergoing shoulder surgery.

But the injury crisis that dogged McGrath last year has very much eased, as key players Eddie Barrett, Steven Daniels, Philip Mahony and Darragh Fives all edge closer to full fitness.

Jamie Barron is also back to full fitness but is unavailable for the Waterford Crystal Cup due to commitments with UCC.

But the fact that Fitzgibbon Cup holders Waterford IT opted out of the Waterford Crystal campaign frees up a number of players to McGrath.

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