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'I admire his bravery because we've been through that path ourselves'

Derek McGrath sees similarities between this Dublin side and Waterford in 2015.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

DEREK MCGRATH BELIEVES Waterford were the architects of their lethargic start against Dublin last night.

The Deise had a poor first half and, despite leading by 1-1 to 0-0 as many fans were still making their way into the stadium, they found themselves five points behind after 19 minutes.

It was Waterford’s first win at Croke Park in league or championship since 2008, and McGrath admits getting that monkey off the backs might have been discussed too much in the camp during the build-up this week.

“We talked too much about the game as a group, and then turned up and were completely flat in the first half,” he said.

“You’re always looking for an angle every week. We feel any psychological steps you can take along the way in terms of a performance or a win can help you in retrospect.

“Last year we beat Tipp for the first time in Thurles for a number of years, and Kilkenny in Nowlan Park for the first time this year.

“We’re setting ourselves little targets as a management. It’s an insight into how we operate, but it might be a bit trivial to people on the outside.”

They were nowhere near their best, but Waterford managed to outmuscle and outthink their younger opponents.

McGrath recognised the pressure his opposite number Ger Cunningham might be feeling as he looks to guide a young crop through their first senior campaign.

McGrath himself made a bold move a couple of years ago when he decided youth was the way forward in Waterford. He was on the receiving end of plenty of criticism before he steered the ship into clearer waters.

“There’s a two-fold benefit to what Ger has done. There’s a real parallel to what we did ourselves two years ago and what Dublin are doing now.

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“It indirectly takes the pressure off you from a media point of view. Dublin are perceived to be preparing minus the Cuala players and to be going the youth route, which disguises the fact they have some serious players.

“The risk is the possible impatience of supporters or clubs. There’s also the risk of a cohort of people being negative no matter what you’re doing. It’s a massive risk, I’m only going back on my personal experience of it.

“I remember going to a game against Laois in Dungarvan after we had drawn against Limerick and saying to myself, if we lose this game the tide will become so strong on the outside of our group that it will nearly result in you stepping away from it.

“You add Mark Schutte, Paul Schutte, Colm Cronin, Darragh O’Connell, if they get Con O’Callaghan to play, if you add those to that scenario I think before it’ll be different. I admire his bravery because we’ve been through that path ourselves.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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