While downtime is undeniably important for managers and athletes in periods of high stress, former Waterford manager Derek McGrath was acutely aware that his opposite number, Micheál Donoghue, was not in an Irish bar in Majorca in the weeks leading up to the 2017 All-Ireland hurling final.
McGrath, who is an Electric Ireland GAA Minor Hurling Championship ambassador, was speaking to Joe Molloy on Off The Ball and admitted that he still reflects on what he could have done differently surrounding his side’s three-point loss to Galway in the final that year.
Initially when asked, McGrath said that he was over the heartbreak of defeat but then paused, asking himself, “Am I over the loss?”, before admitting what appeared obvious by his tone.
“No, I’m not over the loss because I'm thinking of what we could have done differently”, McGrath opened up.
“It’s hard to explain that, Joe. When you’re from Waterford and you haven't won an All-Ireland since 1959. There's Mayo syndrome there.
“There is an absolute craving for success. So it's a different dynamic than what Liam Sheedy and Brian Cody will experience on the weekend.”
McGrath also explained that prior to the final he jetted off to Majorca to see his family on holiday, during which time he knew Galway’s management team would be spending every waking minute in preparation for the final.
“My family were out on holidays in Majorca and I went out on the Tuesday and came back on the Wednesday for training.
“Even when I was out there I was saying there is no way Micheal Donoghue is out on holidays. He is planning.
“And he probably has his troops in and has everything sorted and I'm out here, y’know, in an Irish bar with people looking saying: 'Is that Derek McGrath? What's he doing here? He shouldn't be here.' So all those things can permeate their way into your mindset which is something you definitely learn from.”
Having quit as Waterford manager in June 2018, McGrath also explained to Molloy that his mind was now “muddled” over whether he would return to managing the county again after Paraic Fanning’s resignation opened the managerial vacancy once more.
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