'Waterford people are a mirror image of this team': Here's Derek McGrath's moving homecoming speech

This year's All-Ireland Hurling final has given us more touching speeches than most, writes Stephen Barry.

There was Michael Duignan’s emotional full-time tribute to recently deceased Galway legend Tony Keady on RTÉ.

Moments later, we had David Bourke’s moving captain’s speech, where he remembered his deceased former teammate Niall Donoghue and Keady from the Hogan Stand.

Then, there was Michéal Donoghue’s heartwarming response about the meaning of sharing the MacCarthy Cup with his family.

Last night, there were very different homecomings in Galway and Waterford.

Despite his disappointment, Déise manager Derek McGrath made a fine speech to the people of Waterford about how the fight his team showed mirrored that of their countymen.

“Just to reiterate our absolute appreciation for the support we've received this year, the last four years, it's been an incredible journey,” said McGrath.

“Waterford people are a mirror image of this team. This team are humble in nature, intelligent in what they do, absolutely relentless in trying to nurture and create a spirit for each other, like the Waterford people.

“The Waterford people when they face adversity, they fight back, they say: ‘we're not talking no for an answer, we refuse to give, we refuse to yield and we refuse to accept defeat’.

“The parallels in terms of our chase or our absolute obsession with the upgrade of Walsh Park, university status, the cath lab, all the things that we’ve chased as a group are the same things we chase as an absolutely obsessive group of individuals behind ye, so long may that continue.”

Derek McGrath with son Finn at the Waterford homecoming. Picture: Patrick Browne

He also thanked the Waterford public for their support in defeat.

“It's just so heartening for us. The banquet last night gave us a real lift.

“We're in a quandary in terms of our feelings. We're disappointed at not getting over the line and we're pragmatic enough to know that that's what we went up to do. Yet we're heartened and we feel very proud of the absolute totality of the effort. We spoke yesterday morning as a group about how we were refusing to take no for an answer.

“We spoke about perspective, who we were doing it for, who we were representing, our families, loved ones that we've lost, our clubs, our teachers, the wider base of Waterford supporters and we just said to ourselves that living a relaxing, easy life wasn't for us.

“If a man can go to the limits and stretch his body and mind to his absolute limit, that's what we were asking the lads to do. They've done that for us for the last four years. They've given us absolutely everything they have.”

Thanks to Waterford Council (#MyWaterford) and Frontline Audio Visual for being there to capture the moment.

KEYWORDS: hurling, gaa, waterford


By Stephen Barry

Most Read in Sport