'We promised we'd keep that conversation private' - When Joe Schmidt met the Waterford hurlers

‘We’ve really put our heart and soul into it,’ says Derek McGrath as Déise fall short.

Noel Connors was one of the stars of Waterford's 2015 campaign.
Noel Connors was one of the stars of Waterford's 2015 campaign.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

WATERFORD TURNED TO Irish rugby boss Joe Schmidt for some words of wisdom ahead of their All-Ireland challenge.

The Déise’s dream of a first hurling title since 1959 died on Sunday as they fell to a ruthless Kilkenny in the semi-finals.

The Cats can now look forward to the 14th All-Ireland final of the Brian Cody era when they return to face Tipperary or Galway on 6 September.

Manager Derek McGrath accepted that his young side simply could not match the sustained intensity of the reigning champions.

That was one of Schmidt’s key messages when he spoke to Waterford ahead of the Munster championship.

It’s not the first time that Schmidt has helped an inter-county side, having previously met the Dublin hurlers during the Anthony Daly era.

“We met him in a training camp in the run up to the Cork game,” McGrath said.

“He came to speak to us for an hour. He was absolutely brilliant, I have to say.

“He was just so ordinary. For the extraordinary coach that he is, he was just very ordinary.

His whole approach was to get the levels of intensity up and then that the natural flow to your game will come after the intensity is upped.

“We did promise that we’d keep that conversation private.”

Next season will be the third and final year of McGrath’s term and while he is ‘keen’ to discuss an extension, he acknowledged the need to bring a fresh approach to preparations.

“Every week you’re looking for motivation, you’re looking for a different slant on preparation.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

“We went to train in Clashmore under one light last year — not a Pat Gilroy approach but we felt that’s what we needed.

The boys went expenses free for a certain amount of time, we had no dinners after training, all that type of thing.

“That was our approach so I’d say sustaining that would be very difficult. Not that they’re prima donnas — they’re anything but — but year two of that, year three of my tenure, would be very difficult.

“I really don’t know. We’ve really put our heart and soul into it and that’s difficult.

“While there is talk of extensions of terms it’s very difficult to be emotively linked to a county, and to the players like I would be from school, and sustain that. It might need a more cold, calculated approach.

“You might read something over the winter or in your free time, you might think of something that will help our team next year.”

John Gardiner: Relentless Kilkenny march on but Waterford can still be proud after 2015

About the author:

Niall Kelly

Read next: