New Deise boss conscious of the bigger picture
Part Two: “Tasty Championship draw, Derek”, said I when discussing next summer’s provincial showdown which could, in theory, see Waterford face both All-Ireland finalists in successive rounds.
A wry grim broke across the new Deise manager’s face when the prospect of playing both hurling heavyweights entered our discussion.
“The night of the (Championship) draw I got so many texts from people telling me I must be off my head if I’m going to put my name forward for the job!” he joked.
“The only thing is, I suppose, is that it adds a bit of reality to the whole situation for me.
“In the build-up to the Cork match, regardless of how well we do in the League, we’re not going to be favourites for that game, and if we’re lucky enough to get past Cork, we certainly won’t be favourites for the Clare match.
“People are talking, and rightly so, in very admirable terms about the All-Ireland Final and the replay, the levels that both teams were at in terms of fitness and stick work and everything else and that’s reality. But you look, you have to be eternally hopeful.”
But Cork in this past dozen seasons, have not, even at their zenith under Donal O’Grady and John Allen, struck fear into Waterfordians in the manner that the Rebels did throughout the previous 20 years.
“That’s a fair assessment,” added the De La Salle man.
“I think there’s a healthy respect in Cork towards Waterford, and you’d expect nothing else from a county managed by Jimmy Barry Murphy, but I’m mindful of the fact that Cork reached an All-Ireland Final this year and are a little further down the developmental road than we probably are.
“But when you back to the previous 12 months, Waterford probably had enough changes to turn Cork over in the All-Ireland quarter-final and we could well have won the League game last year. It’s a match we’ll be looking forward to, but look, winning doesn’t always come in a straight line, as Clare proved this year, and Cork too for that matter in reaching the final.”
It’s no surprise that McGrath is already planning the Deise winter training plan, the thoughts of blueing fingers and two pairs of socks in the stands during the Waterford Crystal tournament already entering my own ‘To Do’ list!
“Yeah, I’ve given that a bit of thought. We’re pretty intent on going straight into training as opposed to having the traditional meeting, so we’re moreorless set on tearing straight into training with the players for a couple of weeks as opposed to starting it all off with a chat with a hotel room, but after a few weeks of training – we’ll probably sit down and identify what our goals are going to be for the year ahead,” he stated.
“That’s what we’ve thought of doing at this stage having had only a few brief chats about our initial preparation, what with different individuals having to be introduced during the bedding-in period of the new set-up.
“We’ve a chance to train away and train well as opposed to having too intense a spotlight on us in terms of a match situation; we’ll be in that period when the heavy work is being done throughout November and on into January, the time of year when there’s less scrutiny on senior panels as such, when we’ll all be more comfortable on the training field as opposed to engaging in promotional work, which certainly wasn’t a motivation for any of us getting involved, any type of self-promotion.
Read more in last weeks Munster Express