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Wednesday 26 November 2014

McGrath: Cyber-bullies went way too far after Tipp's semi collapse to Cats

HIS team may have wilted in the face of a fearsome Kilkenny onslaught last August, but Tipperary hurler Shane McGrath has now come out fighting against the cyber bullies who tore into Tipp with a vengeance after their All-Ireland SHC semi-final implosion.

McGrath believes the abuse meted out to amateur players, on social media and in some other media organs, was totally unjustified.

The Ballinahinch clubman has enjoyed some stellar hurling highs - including All-Ireland coronation in 2010 and an All-Star award in 2008 - but the grim flip side came on Sunday, August 19 last year.

Reflecting on the aftermath of their 18-point defeat, McGrath said: "It was a tough time for everyone, but to be honest I thought it was very uncalled for - some of the abuse that some of the players were getting, both on the social media and in the media or whatever. What's the worst of it all is a lot of it was coming from our own people in Tipperary, and I just thought it was very bad form.

"At the end of the day we're amateur players. We train like professionals. This is practically a professional organisation, the GAA, and just some of the abuse was uncalled for.

"We train very hard - six, seven times a week for maybe nine, 10 months of the year. We don't go out to lose a game. Just the way the Kilkenny game panned out, none of us planned that - management or players. We couldn't foresee it. I mean, that happens every day in sport. Teams go out and they just don't perform, and we didn't perform.

"So it was hard to take. But luckily enough, we all had club games and we all had our families and friends to go back to maybe a week later. A lot of lads had big wins for their clubs and they kind of just put it to the back of their minds. That's 2012 now, and we're all just looking forward to 2013."

Under new management, too, with Declan Ryan making way for the comeback coach, Eamon O'Shea. Given all the post-Kilkenny furore - not just over the outcome but the surreal man-marking tactics involving Lar Corbett - Ryan's resignation carried an air of inevitability. But McGrath is now energised by the prospect of working once more under O'Shea, who played such an integral All-Ireland-winning role as Liam Sheedy's coach.

The midfielder has also been reinvigorated by a lengthy pre-Christmas odyssey overseas: he spent almost four months travelling through South America, Australia and south-east Asia. "It's after renewing my appetite for the game - being away and not touching a hurley or anything, and just being away from the whole talk of it," he confirmed.

The issue of cyber-bullying remains, though, and it's something that inter-county players have been forced to get used to.

"Nine or 10 years ago it would have been unheard of, and it's just the way it is now," McGrath conceded. "It works both ways - players have to be mature about what they say on it too, and they just have to take what's said to them on the chin, unfortunately.

"We are in the limelight. Hurling and Gaelic games is probably number one in Ireland and always will be.

"You just have to take it with a pinch of salt and move on. You know you have your families and friends - people that are close to you, people that mean something to you. Whatever they think, that's what really matters at the end of the day."

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