Derek McGrath knows what it is to be part of a squad that is brewing up a storm, and yet not be part of the team. The image above, originally from the Indo with a bit of Come on the Déise editorialising to conceal that, shows Billy O’Sullivan revelling in the win over Tipperary in the 1998 Championship. Derek would only make one substitute appearance in the blowout win over Galway later on that year to add to a substitute appearance in the blowout loss to Limerick the previous year. That was the sum total of his Waterford Senior summer career. More than almost all of us, but an awful lot of sitting around and an awful lot of tedious training sessions for so very little. It was after that Tipp win that I read/heard Stephen Frampton, last seen at the game last week against Dublin, saying that he never minded the hidings. It was training for the hidings that was exasperating.
So it is good to see McGrath give the rest of the squad a run-out tomorrow against Galway. Tipp won’t be too impressed as there is no point pretending that Waterford won’t be weakened by this. If the players were better than what currently have, surely they would have been playing before now. From Waterford’s perspective there is little downside though. We can’t guarantee finishing first in the division with a win – Dublin beat Kilkenny and they finish ahead of us on the head-to-head. And we can’t finish worse than third – Galway and Tipp can’t get more than five points. Wexford look the most likely opponents in the quarter-finals should we top the group, which is definitely an away game, while there would be a 50:50 chance of a home tie should Clare lose to Limerick. Sure, Clare are better than Wexford, but it would be a more interesting clash. Either way, there isn’t a crucial need to win. And who knows? Someone might brew up a storm and we’ll be wondering how we ever coped without them.