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Derek McGrath Hits Back At RTÉ Coverage Of Waterford Sweeper System

Dublin , Ireland - 3 September 2017; Waterford manager Derek McGrath during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Waterford boss Derek McGrath has voiced his anger at criticism of the now famed sweeper system.  

It’s been no secret that over the past three years Waterford have set up defensively. Tadhg de Búrca has operated as a sweeper for the Déise and done so with great success.

In the three summers prior to this system, Waterford failed to progress past the quarter-final stage. Since the introduction of the sweeper though, they have never failed to reach a semi-final.

The evolution of the system has been evident as there’s been clear progression with each passing summer. However, that hasn’t stopped the criticism and controversy surrounding it.

For the most part, McGrath has simply played down the commentary, however, in an interview with the Irish Examiner, the Waterford boss has hit back.

McGrath took a particular disliking to a scene on Saturday’s ‘Up for the Match’ preview of the All-Ireland.

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

The former Waterford hurler was also displeased at his side’s coverage. McGrath felt aggrieved that other sides’ tactics were not scrutinised in the same manner as Waterford’s.

He highlighted tactics used by Galway, Kilkenny, Clare and Tipperary as examples of the difference in coverage given to each county.

“I think there was a definite change in pundits’ mindsets and the detail of their analysis. I’m not saying after Davy had spoken but there is an acceptance that the game is evolving. Maybe other teams have been quieter about it and maybe I’ve been too vocal and open about discussions on it and maybe that has led to other managements saying, ‘Jesus, what’s he revealing that for?’

“Take the Kilkenny situation with how they played Walter Walsh this year as a kind of auxiliary midfielder. As I said before, Colm Galvin playing at the edge of the D as a defensive midfielder. Dan McCormack did it for Tipp. All the narratives that are there as opposed to the sweeper system.”

It’s certainly true that McGrath’s side do come under the spotlight more so than others for their use of tactics.

Waterford supporters will point to the fact that their side totalled an astonishing 13-132 in this year’s championship. This is despite the fact that the Déise are recognised as a defensive side.

Galway in comparison scored 2-138, which totals at 27 points less than Waterford. Even taking into account that Galway played one less game, the scores would have come to almost equal based on averages.

While the sweeper system is not everybody’s favourite tactic, nobody can deny its effectiveness.

Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.