Waterford manager Derek McGrath feels the decision to award Clare a late free was a mistake

Tony Kelly pointed the free to level the game, moments before Clare went on to win it

Waterford manager Derek McGrath feels the decision to award Clare a late free was a mistake

Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan


Waterford manager Derek McGrath feels that referee Diarmuid Kirwan made a mistake when awarding Clare a controversial last ditch free in today's Allianz League division one league final at Semple Stadium.

The free was awarded in the third minute of injury time moments after it looked Waterford's Jamie Barron had been fouled, with Tony Kelly pointing from long range to level the game before he won the game for Clare in the following play. 

The quickfire scores from 2013's Hurler of the Year completed a remarkable comeback for the Banner, as they claimed their first National League title since 1978.

However, not all who were watching the game thought it was a free, and McGrath felt the wrong decision was made. 

"I thought it was a mistake," he said when asked about the decision to not award a free for the foul on Barron.

"I think we made plenty mistakes on the line ourselves, we make mistakes every day, all the players make mistakes and any referee is entitled to make a mistake and that's my honest opinion.

"I actually thought the free was wide on top of that which it probably wasn't but I thought it was a mistake on Damien's behalf, but look that's the way the game goes."

Clare's Podge Collins and Darragh Fives tackle Shane Bennett of Waterford
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Speaking about the Deise's performance on the field, McGrath was effusive in his praise for his sides efforts today, particularly with the negativity that has surrounded the side all week following last week's performance. 

"I though we actually played very well today, Patrick [Curran] gave us a great start with the goal, and we looked capable of opening them up.

"I also want to point out that I'm very proud of the lads in terms of the negativity that surrounded the game all week and the approach by not just yourselves [the media present] but even within Waterford circles that they were able to shut that out and produce a performance like that.

"For me, that's very heartening."

The two sides will meet again in four weeks time in their opening game of the Munster Championship, and McGrath feels today's result will have no bearing on that game. 

"I don't think we've any extra motivation because we were beaten in the circumstances. 

"The reality is the two teams will come out on the fifth of June and it will 50/50 from the start and the team that plays better on the day (will win).

"I think today will have no bearing on it in terms of our approach to it. 

"The days of a psychological advantage are based on the feeling that you didn't get the decision or otherwise, that's gone. 

"In Waterford for long enough we've clung to decisions or blaming referees or blaming everything bar the reality of it.

"We're trying to create a different culture were we're not playing the blame game.

"Clare won the game because they came with important scores at the right time and that's the reason." 

Derek McGrath spoke with Newstalk reporter Oisin Langan after the game