'Look, would it soften not having an All-Ireland? At times it does and at times it doesn't'

Waterford’s Ken McGrath is this week’s guest on our GAA podcast Warriors.

IT’S THE TURN of one of the most iconic teams in modern hurling and one of their best-loved players in the spotlight this week on our GAA podcast, Warriors.

ken-mcgrath-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle Ken McGrath pictured celebrating Waterford's All-Ireland semi-final success over Tipperary in 2008. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Waterford hurling great Ken McGrath is our guest and we asked him to select his three favourite GAA games before we explored each one of them in the episode.

From the catalogue of Waterford-Cork classics, Ken picked the drawn 2007 All-Ireland quarter-final, the 2002 Munster club final where he scored 0-9 as Mount Sion were crowned champions and the 1991 Munster final replay between Cork and Tipperary that made a major impression on a hurling-mad youngster.

We talked about shouting at his younger brother Eoin to take his point before 70,000 people in Croke Park, cutting the celebrations short after winning your first All-Star award and getting five fans into Semple Stadium when you’ve only two tickets between the group.

ken-mcgrath-digital Ken McGrath celebrates Mount Sion's 2002 Munster club final success Source: INPHO

Naturally the quest for All-Ireland glory with county and club came up but despite the serial disappointments in that regard, Ken is able to take solace from the status Waterford now enjoy in hurling compared to when he was growing up.

“We were looking on at all these matches (growing up) because we were never really involved in them in Waterford. We were only young, 13, 14, mad to see and only love for Waterford to be in these matches. Obsessed with it nearly for us to get better.

“And then for us maybe to play in them later on, you can appreciate what Munster finals mean. For us as 13, 14 year olds, to think we’ll have that in 10 years time, I would have taken anything to get that chance. 

diarmuid-osullivan-and-ken-mcgrath Ken McGrath and Diarmuid O'Sullivan after their 2007 championship clash in Croke Park Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“And we did and thankfully that era of the 2000s, the crowds were massive, the games were good, they were exciting matches. It was great to be involved in them. That’s what would nearly get you over not winning an All-Ireland medal.

“The team that we played on did get Waterford up to a level that we could compete with the top lads. Waterford have been there or thereabouts in the top six or seven since 1998. If someone had said that back in the 80s or 90s, they’d be laughed out of a pub or conversation if that came up.

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“A lot of that has come from the team I played on and the consistency we showed and the way we played the game as well and the players and the characters that were on that team. Look would it soften not having an All-Ireland? At times it does and at times doesn’t.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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