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'I said to myself if I’m here next year at the end of this, I’m going change up this thing radically'

Derek McGrath is this week’s guest on the How To Win At Dominoes podcast.

McGrath led Waterford to a Division 1 league title in 2015.
McGrath led Waterford to a Division 1 league title in 2015.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

FORMER WATERFORD HURLING manager Derek McGrath is the man in the hotseat this week on How To Win At Dominoes as he tells Shane Keegan about his life in coaching so far.

Derek starts by digging into the difference between a manager and a coach and recalls his attempts to get the right blend of professionalism and enjoyment when coaching the students of De La Salle College to a Harty Cup title.

He touches on a lesson learned from Rasmus Ankersen, the chairman of FC Midtjylland in Denmark and author of the book Hunger In Paradise, about not trusting success and retaining your humility when things are going well.

And he reflects on the experience of his disappointing first season in charge of the Waterford senior hurlers, and how the Déise evolved to win a Division 1 league title and establish themselves as All-Ireland contenders.

“If you can have a situation where you’re training well and the players are completely buying in, the outside perception, no matter how bad the losses, you can still be strong enough to ride the wave of negativity and overcome the wave of negativity,” he explains.

“I felt we had a really good set up but first of all, I’d have said that I wouldn’t have led it well enough. I would have listened to a huge amount of people — and that’s not to say that I knew everything myself — but I would have listened to the whole argument: let them play, no structure needed.”

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He adds: “I felt there was a little bit of a lack of authenticity from some of the group, without pointing fingers, people within the group that were almost pretending to lead. I said to myself if I’m here next year at the end of this, I’m going to make changes, I’m going to get complete — not control of it — complete and absolute buy-in from everybody so that there’s a fresh energy and fresh dynamism to the whole thing, and it needed to be done. I remember having a couple of pints in a friend’s house and I said I’m going change up this thing radically.

“Lessons learned were, one: if you keep the mainstay of players involved with you and you’re training well and preparing well and they feel it’s a good setup, you’ll be able to ride out the negativity.

“And second is yourself and how you lead it: you’ve got to put your own stamp and your own philosophy.”

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