Derek McGrath: Tadhg De Burca can look to Brendan Maher return for inspiration
Last Updated: 30/09/19 3:57pm
Former Waterford boss Derek McGrath has backed Tadhg De Burca to make a swift recovery from his cruciate injury.
The former Young Hurler of the Year damaged his cruciate in a club game earlier this month, and may miss the entire 2020 inter-county season. De Burca has been a crucial member of the Deise side in recent years, picking up an All-Star award in 2015, and playing a central role in their run to the All-Ireland final in 2017.
"Tadhg is one of the nicest young lads you'll ever meet and one of the most focused young lads you'll ever meet," said McGrath.
"[He's] one of the best hurlers I've ever been involved with, I have to say through all my years working with De La Salle and lucky enough to be involved with him, [he's] a credit to his family and his club.
"When you hear that Tadhg has gone down, he just doesn't go down, you know it's just part of his warrior spirit that he has, so I heard then the subsequent ACL injury diagnosis. I just sent him a text to see if everything was organised for him, and it was."
McGrath knows the defender faces a long road back to the top, but pointed out that there are no shortage of role models who have been down that path.
"He faces a long recovery but all he needs to do is take solace in what Henry Shefflin has done over the years and what other guys who have done their cruciate have done," he said.
"He just needs to look at Brendan Maher last year. Brendan Maher tore his cruciate in the last game. He ended up playing a couple of games with Borrisoleigh last year, and ended up having a brilliant championship, and it will probably end up in an All-Star year.
"Tadhg has plenty of people around him and good people around him to focus on that journey."
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Without De Burca, the Deise will be looking to bounce back after two disappointing seasons. Although currently without a manager, they will be looking to get their house in order in the coming weeks, ahead of a tilt at the 2020 campaign.
"We had a difficult season in my last year in 2018 and we had a difficult season last year through no fault of anyone. As such I think things can materialise like that, I think he [the new manager] will get a hungry group of players," said McGrath.
"The perception is that there needs to be changes made, I'd be careful round that perception because sometimes it's peaks and troughs with groups. We've hit a bit of a dip but I think the players are good enough to re-emerge and focus on a good year, you know small steps I think. I think there is an element of realism needed now from us all in Waterford that these small steps need to be appreciated as much as anything else and not leave the whole idea of we need to get a win in the Munster Championship follow us around.
"There's a coming together from everyone needed."
As for McGrath, he has already ruled himself out of a return to the Waterford managerial job, and instead will be working with the Laois minors in 2020.
He was keen to stress that it is a project that hugely excites him, and not just a reaction to Laois' senior success in 2019.
"It wasn't a reaction to this summer," he said.
"I made contact... I went to watch a number of the Laois U16 games, U15 games. It wasn't on the back of Eddie Brennan's charge with Laois. It was more so on the back of getting involved in something that fitted.
"It's a perfect fit. I'm starting with the six-year-olds, the senior infants in my own club next week, so I'll have them every Saturday morning.
"I'll head up to Laois once a week in the new year, and it fits into family life. I'm just looking forward to it."