The Allianz National Hurling League isn’t the be all and end all for every county. For Waterford, having lost the All-Ireland final last September to Galway, this spring campaign was never going to define 2018.
Derek McGrath and his side are up and running for the year, after their win over Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. However, having lost their first three games to Wexford, Tipperary and Kilkenny, it seems like the Déise are set to face the relegation decider regardless. Nonetheless, their Munster Championship opener against Clare in May will be the primary focus.
Speaking on Off The Ball last night, McGrath revealed that it took him a long time to make his mind up to return.
“The backlash at local level wasn’t great, in terms of how we performed. We grew as the Championship went on. There was a real connection between ourselves and the public.
“When we came home, lots of people were saying ‘you have to go again next year, you’re that close’.”
McGrath admitted that in his head, he saw 2017 as “100%” his last year, revealing he only began to change his mind in the aftermath of losing the All-Ireland final to Galway.
“I met the players on the 30th of September, about four weeks after (the final), and said I need to sort out A, B and C if we’re going to commit to this. I gave no commitment at that stage. It’s very easy to go out on the relative high of being in an All-Ireland final. In terms of your own personal, how it looks for yourself.
“I felt I left it drag a small bit. In retrospect, I should have made a decision early October and just said it. Look at [Stephen] Rochford’s decision. He made it on the night of the banquet and said ‘we’ll be back next year’.
“2018 will probably be my last go at it.”
You can listen to the full interview here.
Waterford’s final Division 1A League game is against Clare, scheduled for this weekend, but of course that could change due to the weather.