'More than a manager' - Tributes pour in for departing Déise boss Derek McGrath

Gach Rud. Gach Lá.

'He will be sorely missed.'
'He will be sorely missed.'
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

SINCE THE NEWS broke last night that Derek McGrath had stepped down after five years as Waterford hurling manager, tributes have been flowing.

McGrath, who steered the Déise to the All-Ireland SHC final last year but saw them suffer an early championship exit this time around, put pen to paper with an eloquent, and touching, parting statement released last night.

He thanked his family and friends, his selectors, the county board and Club Déise, fans and his school before beautifully honouring his players.

“The joy, the tears, the sense of camaraderie and the memories shared will stay with me forever,” he noted.

“Embarking on this journey with a group of young players we aimed to cultivate a culture of honesty, integrity and pride everytime we represented our beloved county.

“Witnessing your growth and watching you represent Waterford on and off the field with the unity of a tight-knit family filled us all with immense pride. Whilst we committed ourselves to be the best we could be as a management, we also challenged you to be the most diligent team ever to represent Waterford and you responded by giving everything you had every day, which became our team motto – GACH RUD. GACH LÁ.

“You have been a credit to yourselves and I thank your families and partners for inculcating in you a sense of decency, a humility and a work ethic that will stand the test of time. The greatest compliment I can pay both players and their families is the hope that I can continue to rear my own family with the underlying traits that are inherent in you all.

“This team will be forever ingrained in my heart.”

And it’s fair to say that those feelings and that respect is mutual, with players speaking ever so highly of the De La Salle club man.

“Initial thoughts are disappointment,” Pauric Mahony said of the 2015 Division 1 NHL title-winning manager’s departure on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland earlier.

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“Emotions have been fairly high over the last few days. We made memories with Derek that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives

“The professionalism, everything he brings to the set-up is 100%. He put his own life on hold for the last five years, you can’t expect him to go for another year.

Derek McGrath celebrates with Philip Mahony McGrath with Phillip Mahony last August. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“People have said it before, and on social media the last few days, that he was more than a manager. It may be a bit corny or cringey, but he was that. He goes that extra mile for the players.”

Mahony explained how McGrath would help players find jobs and sort them out off the field, where possible, before adding:

“I’d like to think that maybe in some ways we went out on a high for him on Sunday with our performance. We were playing for Derek. He’s just done so much for us and we’ll never be able to thank him enough for what he’s given the players.”

2016 Hurler of the year and Young Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson has been one of the many Waterford players — among others — to share their thoughts on social media.

“I’m absolutely gutted that Derek McGrath who has done so much for this county, myself on a personal level and anyone who has dealt with him is stepping away,” he wrote.

“The amount of work he has put in that nobody realises is incredible! He will sorely missed by this whole team!! #GachLá.”

Austin Gleeson 

Brian O’Halloran

Noel Connors

Tomás Ryan Ó Cadhla

Henry Shefflin

Jackie Tyrrell

Brian Hogan

Liam Sheedy

Eoin Larkin

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‘This team will be forever ingrained in my heart’: Derek McGrath steps down as Déise hurling boss

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