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'Lads have fundraised for it and they still get grief' - Ex-Déise boss defends training camp culture

Derek McGrath says that training camps are a vital part of a team’s championship preparation.

EX-WATERFORD MANAGER Derek McGrath says that training camps are vital to any team’s preparation, and has backed current Déise boss Paraic Fanning, who slammed the GAA’s plans to clamp down on such practices from next year.

Electric Ireland Darkness Into Light with Derek McGrath Waterford were punished for holding a training camp under Derek McGrath's management last year. Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

Earlier this week, Fanning said the proposed plans to ban foreign training trips and cut down on the duration of home-based camps are “a load of nonsense”. He also argued that there are other issues which the GAA should be prioritising.

A number of GAA teams, including the Waterford hurlers, lost home advantage for their opening league games this year for breaking the rules on training camps last year.

Under McGrath’s management, Waterford held a training camp during the club-only month of April, meaning they were forced to face Offaly in Thurles for their league opener this year.

The De La Salle man says that the senior team trained at locations including Johnstown House and Fota Island during his time at the helm, and says that it’s a worthwhile endeavour. 

“I agree with Pauric’s point,” McGrath begins before stating that there is a misunderstanding among the public about the planning that goes into a training camp.

“I’ll give you an example – we went to Portugal on the back of our relegation the first year, so locally, the perception around going to Portugal became, ‘Jesus I wouldn’t send those guys to…’

“It’s very hard to escape the perception against the reality as regards good preparation with some people. We would have fundraised for our own trip to Portugal, got help from Club Déise but we did a lot of fundraising work ourselves.

You’ve the situation where lads are taking a week off work – no money back – they’ve fundraised for it themselves and they still get grief. There’s the social aspect to it, it’s brilliant for people, players to come together and do their absolute best for their county.”

Fanning’s Waterford panel was given permission to travel to Portugal for a training camp this year as they were able to guarantee that four weekends would be allocated to club activity between the close of their league campaign and their first championship tie.

On that point, McGrath hit out at the “irony” of punishing Waterford for breaching training camp regulations last year despite playing four rounds of club championship across hurling and football in the same month.

He added that other teams are engaging with the practice as well.

They are happening all over the place. I just think the difficulty is people find it hard to marry the… like the grief I would’ve got and it would have been, ‘you should have put that into the Irish economy as opposed to going to Portugal.’ No, to be fair I can see that point.

“You give that business to Fota, you give that business to the Gold Coast in Waterford and you’re giving back something to people that have given something to the GAA but you are just trying to prepare as best you can and I would imagine the lads had a brilliant week.”

Former Waterford Hurling Manager, Derek McGrath teamed up with Electric Ireland and Pieta House to encourage people to experience The Power of Hope by registering for this year’s Darkness into Light event on 11th May at www.darknessintolight.ie

#ThePowerOfHope #DIL2019. Darkness into Light, organised by Pieta House is proudly supported by Electric Ireland since 2013.

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