WATERFORD star Dan Shanahan said yesterday he did not deliberately avoid former manager Justin McCarthy’s handshake as he was substituted against Clare two weeks ago.
The 2007 Hurler of the Year broke his silence on the turbulent events of the past week in Waterford GAA circles which saw McCarthy resign and referred to the much-discussed incident when he appeared to avoid the former manager as he was called ashore during the Munster SHC game in the Gaelic Grounds.
“Every player hates to be taken off,” said Shanahan, “And I’m no different to any other player. What happened that day is for another day, but I hate to be taken off.
“The pictures in the paper made me look bad, but there were no intentions there.
“People took it up the wrong way but there’s nothing I can do about that only to get out on the field and do my best. But I didn’t deliberately do that. I wouldn’t do that deliberately to any man.”
Asked if he felt recent events had lead to the team bond getting stronger, Shanahan agreed: “We’re sticking together on this. We’re linked like a chain and nobody’s going to break that. We’re probably going to get a bit of flak, but we’re well used to that. This can make us stronger — it has already. It’ll be interesting meeting the new man.”
Regarding that “new man”, Shanahan’s Waterford teammate Ken McGrath said it would be “strange” to have former opponent Davy Fitzgerald in charge of Waterford.
“I suppose it’s a bit strange having Davy coming into the dressing-room,” said McGrath, “But I’m looking forward to it, and I know Dan and the rest of the lads are as well. We trained hard the last few days and we’re looking forward to having Davy come in. Davy did what he had to do on the pitch to win big games, and we respect that. We all want to win big games. We’d have no problem with that, he got two All-Ireland medals out of it, and if he comes down with the same passion we’ll be happy.”
The players are concentrating on hurling from now on.
“It’s been an eventful 10 days, but we’re just looking forward to getting back hurling. We’re more interested in doing that. Things are still very raw in Waterford, maybe we can discuss it in a few weeks, or a few months, but at the moment we’re focused on the new manager — hearing his ideas and getting back into hurling.”
Shanahan and McGrath said they were conscious that Waterford supporters had been taken by surprise by McCarthy’s departure.
“People have their own opinions,” said McGrath. “Waterford is the same as anywhere else.
“It was a shock to a lot of people, but not everybody knows everything that’s going on either. It was a tough week we’re not used to that kind of media coverage, but our main thing is to move on.
“You meet people with something to say and you just tell them they’re right,” said Shanahan.
“That’s not bull — people will probably tell me what I want to hear, anyway.”
Both players were loud in their praise for physical trainer Gerry Fitzpatrick, and both stressed that relations between the senior hurling panel and the Waterford County Board were “excellent”.
McGrath said spirit in the panel was good: “You don’t want to lose any games, especially the way we lost the Clare game. We were hurt over that and we’ll bounce back. There’re good games left in our team, and we want to show that — to get our confidence back and show what we’re capable of. We think we have as good a chance as we ever had to win an All-Ireland, and hopefully in September we’ll be looking back on this. We hope this with Davy is the start of something special.” McGrath said his own injury was slow to recover, but he has targeted the next Waterford game, on July 5 for his comeback. The Deise’s other injury worries — Eoin Murphy and Eoin Kelly — are also on the mend.
“Eoin Murphy’s a bit worried about his hand but he’s seeing the doctor this week,” said Shanahan. “Kelly is Kelly.”
“Eoin (Kelly) is back in training,” said McGrath. “Hopefully you’ll see a different Waterford team on July 5. We’re all the one unit now.”
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