"I’d hate to be the man to step into his shoes" - Austin Gleeson "thankful" to retain manager Derek McGrath

Gleeson discusses his relationship with McGrath and how he reacted to winning Hurler of the Year

BY Cian Roche 07:30 Thursday 17 November 2016, 7:30 17 Nov 2016

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan 

Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson admits he is "thankful" to have Derek McGrath stay on in his role as Waterford hurling manager.

McGrath was last year ratified until 2019, but Gleeson explains that after the heartbreak of the 2016 Championship, there was a fear that he would leave his post.

"He was kind of thinking that he has a young family - he’s got two young kids," said Gleeson. "That was the way he was thinking. It was basically up to the family more so than anything because he didn’t want to be gone for a fourth year out of the house every day of the week having meetings and being on the phone all the time.

"The family are after giving him their full backing. He’s staying and we’re thankful for that because we believe he’s the man that could lead us the whole way hopefully."

The 21-year-old discussed his close relationship with McGrath, who has been helping to guide him since he was a teenager.

"After the first year when I was with the club and U21 again, I was at one of the lad's 21st birthday's after a match. It was my first year and the pressure after the first year, I wasn't really able for it. I sent a stupid text when I had a few drinks in me. Literally five minutes later he text me being like 'I'll ring you in the morning.

"That was it. He rang me the next morning and we went for a drive. I explained that it was just a stupid text that came from a loss that we probably shouldn't have had. That was basically it. 

"A lot of pressure was being put on me, not by him, but by myself... We were up the next morning in the gym and I was talking to him on the way out. The second we started talking, I knew it was the wrong decision to make. I was never going to leave the set-up. It was one of those stupid decisions.

"His man-management is just incredible so the minute he got me in the car I knew straight away that he was always going to be there. Everyone will tell you that.

"If there’s stuff after happening, no one will know about it on the panel. It’s between him and the player and he won’t tell anyone. It’s going to stay confidential."

Derek McGrath has been integral in Waterford's continued rise in the hurling ranks. Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan 

Gleeson described the impact he has had on the team since he was first appointed in 2013 and says following him will be an incredibly difficult task.

"To be honest with you, I’d hate to be the man to step into his shoes going in there as the next manager because every facet of his management is phenomenal. Every player on the team will tell you that.

"He has everyone on that team playing for him and that’s the main thing. So, whoever steps in there will be a serious contender. God help whoever goes in because he’s just an unbelievable man and an unbelievable manager."

With regards to his wins at the All-Stars last week, the Tramore clubman says he was in "complete and utter shock" when he found out he had won Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year last week at the GAA Opel All-Stars.

"Even when he told me I was still kind of second guessing him and asking him 'are you sure?'. It was crazy to receive the awards and I suppose it didn’t really properly hit until I had them in my hands that night.

"Even at that, it’s still not really after sinking in what I have just achieved. It probably won’t for a while. I know in my head that it’s a big achievement."

"I gave them straight to my mother and father, I didn’t really want to have the conscience of losing them. They brought them home for me and they’re sitting on the mantelpiece looking down."

Austin Gleeson was speaking at the launch of the GAA-GPA Opel All-Stars Jersey in support of the Childhood Cancer Foundation. To support Ireland's fight against childhood cancer and to make a donation, click here.


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