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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 21 February, 2020

Derek McGrath: 'The Newbridge or nowhere stance was probably an epiphany moment for all of us'

The former Waterford boss on last week’s news that Walsh Park will be available for them this summer.

THE VENUE WAS out of action yesterday due to torrential rain in the south-east but Walsh Park will be a frequent home for the Waterford hurlers in 2019.

Derek McGrath Former Waterford boss Derek McGrath during a match against Kilkenny in Walsh Park. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Their Division 1B hurling league tie against Galway was postponed yesterday, it has subsequently been re-fixed for next Sunday.

Last Thursday’s news that the ground will host their Munster championship games with Clare and Limerick this summer is a major boost for their fortunes.

Former Waterford manager Derek McGrath saw his side forced to travel last summer for their entire round-robin series in Munster rather than be able to rely on home comforts. 

Speaking on Allianz League Sunday on RTÉ last night, he’s happy to see action return to Walsh Park while also harbouring regrets that Waterford did not follow the example involving the Kildare footballers last summer who dug their heels in to secure their rightful home advantage for a qualifier against Mayo.

“It’s good news for Waterford,” admitted McGrath.

“I’d have to acknowledge that the defeats and draw we got last year weren’t just down to the home venues, there was a litany of injuries, refereeing decisions and just not being good enough on given days.

A general view of Walsh Park after the game being abandoned before throw in Walsh Park was declared unplayable yesterday afternoon. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“The only thing I would say is the forceful pursuit of Walsh Park as a home venue is down in my opinion as much to do with the bad press or bad PR we got as a result of not forcefully pursuing it last year as it is to do with structural improvements.

“The Newbridge or Nowhere stance was probably an epiphany moment for all of us. On a personal level I wasn’t forceful enough. When you see Cian O’Neill coming out in the forceful nature that he did, you say to yourself first and foremost could you have done more. We’ve wallowed in a state of perpetual mediocrity for the last 30 years in terms of our grounds. It’s an embarrassment. It’s good now that there’s a unity of purpose. 

Cian O'Neill ahead of the game Cian O'Neill before Kildare's clash with Mayo last summer. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I think there’s lessons that have to be absorbed. The intangible element of having a game at a home venue as opposed to larger venues getting larger revenue, I think it should always supersede the fact that you’re going to a larger venue for other reasons.

“I’m looking forward to it, I can’t wait for the 12th of May. I feel that the boys will really put their stamp on the game. Outside of the social and economic benefits, it’s the advantage of training in your own ground for eight or nine weeks in preparation for a match.”

Current Waterford boss Paraic Fanning was also pleased to see the development last week.

“That’s going to do wonders here for hurling, the build-up to those games, the weeks leading up to it. It gets kids out on streets playing hurling, it gets people talking about hurling.

“We wouldn’t have had that last year as much as we had a massive hurling following. You can’t beat the whole thing of the game just up the road.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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