Ken mightn’t have made it in time but his younger brother Eoin will fly the McGrath family flag in Sunday’s All-Ireland Hurling semi-final versus Kilkenny at Croke Park.
The Mount Sion clubman, who hasn’t made Davy Fitzgerald’s first 15 since the draw with Limerick, comes in at right corner-forward in place of Shane Casey in one of two changes to the side that started the game against Galway.
Quarter-final goal hero, Fourmilewater’s Shane Walsh, is rewarded by replacing Jamie Nagle at left half-forward.
Dan Shanahan, who turned the game late on, is given number 18, while Ken McGrath, in a race against time to be fit after knee surgery, is named as 30th man. Gary Hurney, still recovering from a broken collar bone, is also included down the panel.
The defence, then, stays the same as the last day, as does the midfield, though positional switches are expected before the ball is thrown in.
Galway manager John McIntyre says this is the challengers’ chance at atonement. “It Waterford want this on Sunday, if in the weeks of mourning after last year’s All-Ireland they wanted one crack at Kilkenny to show themselves in a different light and demonstrate that last September was a freak, they have their chance.”
But, he told today’s ‘Irish Times’, “Kilkenny are a machine and they don’t do sentiment… Waterford can expect a full-court press and have to have a game plan that keeps them still there for the first 20 minutes.”
He, like virtually all commentators, foresees only one winner – “the greatest hurling team ever to grace the fields of Ireland.” Gulp.
Yet if Waterford were to win, what would that make them?
Waterford starting XV: C Hennessy; E Murphy, A Kearney, N Connors; T Browne, M Walsh, D Prendergast; S O’Sullivan, K Moran; S Prendergast, S Molumphy, S Walsh; J Mullane, E Kelly, E McGrath.