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25 years on from playing in minor final, Waterford and Galway bosses to face off in senior decider

Derek McGrath and Micheal Donoghue cross paths once more.

WHEN GALWAY SET out against Waterford on 3 September, they will be aiming to land a senior crown and repeat a victory enjoyed on All-Ireland final day 25 years ago.

Derek McGrath and M’chŽal Donoghue Derek McGrath and Micheal Donoghue after April's quarter-final. Source: Mike Shaughnessy/INPHO

The 1992 All-Ireland minor final swung Galway’s way against Waterford as they claimed a 1-13 to 2-4 victory.

And in a neat link from then, the Waterford centre-forward and the Galway wing-back from that minor clash will be patrolling the sideline against each other in this year’s senior decider.

Derek McGrath ended up on the losing side in 1992 but has a head-to-head experience to draw upon against Micheal Donoghue.

In another twist, current Galway coach Francis Forde was midfield on that 1992 winning minor side as well.

“I marked him in a ’92 All-Ireland minor final, a long time ago,” recalled McGrath after yesterday’s semi-final win over Cork.

“I was on a player called Conor O’Donovan from Galway, he was a brilliant player, I was shifted over to Micheal, he was left-half back.

“And I was moved into the corner. I wasn’t taken off now but I don’t know how I wasn’t.

“I actually get on well with Micheal Donoghue myself. Young aspiring managers I suppose, we would have shared thoughts.

Derek McGrath celebrates after the game Derek McGrath celebrating Waterford's win over Cork. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“In terms of a grudge match, no, I think it is the final that the general public would want in terms of colour and the dynamic of it.

“In terms of motivation, our motivation was third semi-final in a row, I didn’t think we can lose this at this stage.”

Waterford’s achievement propels them into a first All-Ireland senior final since 2008. McGrath’s brother-in-law is John Mullane so he has a clear recollection of that game.

“We went up on a bus, (a) De La Salle bus, we weren’t staying the night and I just remember John in the run-up to the game, saying everything had gone well.

Jackie Tyrrell and Eoin Larkin put John Mullane John Mullane in action in the 2008 All-Ireland final. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“So when I read things about Waterford got it so wrong in the run-up to the 08 final, I am surprised because I know how detailed Davy would be, every whim, every detail would be spot-on.

“I remember going to the final, Waterford were very aggressive in the approach early on. I remember the very start of that game, Barry Kelly throws the ball in and Cha actually catches the ball from the throw-in and from that minute, that second, Kilkenny were just (on top).

“Any analysis that nothing was done right in the build-up to the final, players were looking around in the parade, they were only interested in getting the suits, this kind of craic you will hear from small-minded people.

“They met a storm, they met one of the greatest teams ever and they were just blown away.

Aidan Kearney dejected as Eddie Brennan celebrates Waterford's Aidan Kearney dejected as Eddie Brennan of Kilkenny celebrates during the 2008 final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“In terms of controlling hype or otherwise, these fellas will be grand. If we don’t perform here in three weeks, it will just be because Galway will be better.

“Are there lessons to be learnt? I am not sure. This group will play, they will play well. I think we will try to get the balance right between embracing it and cocooning ourselves away.

“If you go the route of locking yourself up for three weeks, I am not sure that this will work for this group, it might work for someone else.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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