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Derek McGrath dedicates win to De Búrca

Waterford v Clare - Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Semi-Final

Waterford v Clare - Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Semi-Final

By John Harrington

Derek McGrath said he and his Waterford team were highly motivated to beat Cork in today’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final for the sake of Tadhg De Búrca.

De Búrca was suspended for the match after being red-carded in the All-Ireland SHC Quarter-Final against Wexford, and McGrath admitted everyone in the Waterford camp was determined to make it to the All-Ireland Final for his sake so he'd have a chance to play again this year. 

“Yeah, 100 per cent, 100 per cent,” said McGrath who had the number five written on his hand in black marker as a tribute to De Búrca.

“We spoke about it as a group Friday night. We spoke about it as a group today. We weren’t sure whether we should, because you're dealing with a lad, I won't say he's reserved, he’s just everything we feel we’re trying to be as a team. He’s just a purist, a great lad, he’s tough.

“I don't know if I'm putting it right because we had a tough couple of weeks with him. He showed great mental fortitude in the two weeks. We did it for him, yeah.

“I make no apologies, that was part of the motivation for us. Not in a corny way, but it was definitely part of the group’s motivation because of what he had contributed up to this match over the four years.”

After the final whistle McGrath made a bee-line for De Búrca and embraced him before reminding him he had delivered on a promise made on Thursday evening when De Búrca’s appeal to the DRA failed.

“Yeah, I promised him the other night coming out of the Louis Fitzgerald hotel that we’d be in final. I just promised him.

“I know it sounds overly dramatic but I just promised him that we'd be in the final. I went up to his mother and father on Friday up in Clashmore and they were upset.

“Naturally, like, they would be. So I just promised him we'd be in the final.”

Having been knocked out of the championship at the All-Ireland semi-final stage for the past two years, today’s victory was an important breakthrough for this Waterford team.

McGrath has poured his heart and soul into the job over the course of the past four years, so not surprisingly the win over Cork and progress through to the All-Ireland Final meant a lot to him.

“Hugely satisfying, hugely,” he said. “It's a mixture of elation, relief, anticipation now at this stage of what’s to come.

“All those emotions. Elation relief, joy, ecstasy. I don't know. It was everything too coming into it and we were able to perform well so it's very, very satisfying.”