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Derek McGrath criticises RTÉ for Up For The Match sketch with sweeping brushes

“It was disappointing to see the ball being passed from brush to brush on national television.”

THE HOTEL OF the losing All-Ireland finalists is a somber place to visit the day after the first Sunday in September.

A dejected Derek McGrath Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

As the GAA world celebrates Joe Canning and Galway’s incredible triumph of bridging a 29-year gap without the title, the Waterford players are left to reckon with their rip-roaring season that ultimately ended in failure.

There’s no escaping the pain, as much as they try.

A bleary-eyed Derek McGrath agrees to a chat in Donnybrook’s Clayton Hotel as with the awaiting members of the press. Behind him the players make their way from breakfast to the hotel bar in pods of twos and threes.

McGrath tells us he finished up around 4am the night before. He had sporadic chats with members of his squad throughout the post-All-Ireland banquet, but they didn’t discuss the game in any great detail.

“(There was) a feeling they were a small bit better than us, a lot of them commented on Galway’s physicality and maybe they just wore us down,” says McGrath. “That was general theme in terms of the conversations we had.”

Derek McGrath Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Any regrets?

“I have to say no the feelings are the same as yesterday. No real regrets, no.”

McGrath sits in front of us as one of only two managers to bring Waterford to an All-Ireland final since 1963. In his four years in charge he brought the county as far as the All-Ireland semi-final twice and the final once, showing tangible progress year-on-year.

He brought a county with no great history of success on the national stage to within three points of a steely Galway side who’ve been knocking on the door since 2012. Through his profession as a teacher, McGrath has even nurtured handful of the current Deise panel since before they were teenagers.

Yet no manager in the game has to defend his side’s style of play more than McGrath.

One segment from RTÉ’s Up For The Match preview show on Saturday night irked the Waterford boss.

A number of youngsters at an underage training session in Ferrybank GAA club were filmed using a sweeping brush to pass the sliotar to one another. It was intended as a humorous take on Waterford’s sweeper system, but the De La Salle man didn’t see it that way.

“It was disappointing to see the ball being passed from brush to brush on national television,” says McGrath. “People might say I’m being over the top in criticising it but we’re better than that, I think, in Waterford.

“We’re better than passing a sliotar from brush to brush. I don’t think it was right, but that’s just a personal opinion.

dasdsa Source: RTE

“I keep saying it, it’s more deliberate with Tadhg (de Burca) but I still have the 1992 and 1993 final in my mind with Pat O’Neill sitting back there for Kilkenny. I still have (Tony) Keady in the 1990 final, I have Brian Hogan (for Kilkenny)…

“This year when Walter Walsh wasn’t followed down the field by Declan Hannon, I have Declan Hannon sitting at the edge of one D and Cillian Buckley sitting at the edge of the other D. We’d like to think we’re the ones making the most informed decisions because we’re working on it.

“Our opinion is that at the end of the day it’s about doing what’s best for your team to get the result. It’s easy to go the other route with the word even – ‘I detest sweepers’. Saying what’s the populist thing. Sometimes if you’re going your own way and you’re on your own, it might be the best way to go.”

McGrath’s future is still up in the air, but it’s too early to start contemplating his future. The wound is still fresh.

“I was keen for it not to become a point of debate after. I was keen just to take the chance for a month or so to think about it and where we are and where it is going and my own commitments to school and family.

“We were anxious not to have a debate but there was a lot of good will there towards ourselves the management and the players in terms of the future.”

Derek McGrath and Dan Shanahan dejected after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

If Waterford had lifted the All-Ireland on Sunday, it would have appeared like the perfect moment for McGrath to walk away into the sunset, but that’s not how he saw things.

“I would never have contemplated that perfect scenario where you win it and walk away and you’re a hero for ever more. If you operated in that modus operandi I wouldn’t have taken the job in the first place.

“The advice I was given by people on the outside was to wait until Paddy Curran and the boys were 22 or 23 rather than lob them into a situation when they are 18 or 19. The cute route would have been to wait three or four years until they are ready that was the general perception.

“I wouldn’t operate in a mindset where ‘wouldn’t it be great get out when on top and get into punditry’ and you’re a hero for what you done. That wouldn’t have been entertained.”

To that group of players, you can be sure he’s a hero already.

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Kevin O'Brien

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