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16th May 2023

Ken McGrath speaks straight from the heart in passionate interview about the state of Waterford hurling

Niall McIntyre

Ken McGrath laid out the cold, hard facts on Monday evening and for Waterford hurling people, they make for painful listening.

But the truth hurts and sometimes, reality is the only wake-up call for a sleeping giant.

Waterford have won one of their last sixteen Munster senior hurling championship games. They have now lost six in a row.

The future looked bright in 2016 when, with a team captained by Patrick Curran, they hammered Galway to win the under-21 All-Ireland.

Perhaps the most damning stat of all is that, since that win, as McGrath mentioned during his passionate interview with WLR’s Damien Tiernan, the Déise have only won one under 20 game – and that was against Kerry.

It clearly pained him to say it but McGrath said it anyway. Waterford, he feels, are now playing at a Joe McDonagh standard of hurling.

“You are looking at a team where, two years ago, we were the second best team in the country,” said the Mount Sion legend, “And this year we are at Joe McDonagh standard. And that’s the reality of it.”

Far from an avid social media user, McGrath broke tradition to criticise the set-up on Twitter after Saturday’s hammering at the hands of Clare.

Some turned the criticism on him, and asked why he wasn’t involved. But McGrath said that, after making his case along with Andy Moloney and Dan Shanahan, he was turned down by the Waterford county board.

“We were deemed by the county board to not be good enough,” he said.

“A lot of people can say stuff, ‘These lads aren’t putting [the effort in]’. We wanted to try and put the effort in. I wanted to get back in with Waterford but we were deemed not good enough. At times, there’s a bigger picture of what’s going on.

“Of course it would hurt. You’re putting your neck on the line and saying you want to give something back. I gave 17 years playing, and I was a selector for one year in 2012. I gave the early part of my life to Waterford.”

“But I was only thinking about what I said on Saturday and would I stand over what I said on Saturday, and 100 per cent I would,” he continued.

McGrath said Davy Fitzgerald’s tactics were “baffling,” and when asked if he believes there should be a change in management for next season, his answer was telling.

“If that was a Waterford man standing on the line, would he last a year?

“He didn’t last four years ago when there was a Waterford man (Páraic Fanning) standing there, and the round robin didn’t work out. Would [a Waterford man] last this year? In my opinion, he wouldn’t.”

Listen to the full interview, from Waterford Live Radio here.

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