But for Mount Sion’s Ken McGrath, any intentions he has for the 2010 season with the Deise firmly rest in how well his knees will feel come the springtime.
“At the minute, I’m just caught, the left leg isn’t great and the knee isn’t great still,” he told fellow Deiseman Oisín Langan (Newstalk) at Croke Park on Friday last.
“But if I’m right, I’d love to give it another go. I’m after having two years of non-stop injuries and it’s very hard to keep going and to keep up the enthusiasm.
“But I’d hate to give up; I’ll only be 32 in February so we just have to see what happens now. But if you’re not right, you’re not right.”
Right now, all that Ken can do is hope for the best when it comes to the new season, which is unlikely to see him lining out for Waterford in the National Hurling League.
“Timing is everything with it and I have to take as long as I can,” he continued.
“There’s not much you can do really when there’s a lack of cartilage in the two knees – that’s the problem. But I just have to wait and see and hopefully come March or April I’ll be able to give it a go again and see where we go from there.”
Should McGrath return (something all Waterford fans will be keeping fingers firmly crossed for), a lighter preparatory regime looks the likeliest way of maintaining himself within the county’s playing ranks.
“If I do go back, I’ll really have to look after myself and doing what I can do; the days of me doing the wicked hard training are definitely over, especially on the pitch,” he stated.
“I’ve got to manage my legs better and make sure I’m right at the right time of the year. I think last year I might have done too much starting off early on and come the first game against Limerick, my legs were in bits, really. I suppose it’s a case of you live and you learn, you know.”
While 2009 was “a year to forget” for Ken inter-county wise, he felt that Waterford acquitted themselves well in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny, which bodes well for the new campaign.
“We put it up to (Kilkenny) and we had our chances that day,” reflected.
“But I missed the whole summer and even though I was trying hard to get back, I was nowhere near ready.
“While it was year to forget for me, the team they came back well, had a good result against Galway but now we’ve got to up our performance again next year and I think we will.”
So what can lead Waterford towards improvement and a possible end to an All-Ireland wait now exceeding a half century?
“I think we need to play with a bit more fluency; we haven’t played with the sort of fluency we know we can produce for a few years but we have the hurlers to do it.
“Kilkenny are going for five-in-a-row and we know we’ll get nothing easy against them but when you think what happened the year before, the lads put up a decent show. But we’ve come a bit further than just (being happy with) putting up decent shows.
“We expect to win a few games. But next year is a new year, we’ll have new lads coming in and there are good lads in Waterford, so let’s give them a chance and let’s see what happens.”
Introducing some of the talent that shone so brightly in Waterford’s underage colours last simmer should serve to bolster the county’s senior Championship challenge.
“You can’t just throw in 10 or 12 young lads – it won’t work,” McGrath added.
“But we had a good Under-21 team last year and a good minor team so there’s a bit of decent talent coming through and it’s just a matter of giving them a chance, putting them on, see how they go, blending them in with the older lads and seeing how things take shape.”
When asked about a potential coaching role within the Waterford squad between now and his hopeful return from injury, Ken poured a Clonmel Quay-load of cold water on any such notion.
“I won’t be doing that,” he said. “It’s tough enough going when you’re injured – besides, I don’t know if Davy would want me as a hurling coach!
“Maybe coaching is something for a few years down the line. Going back first and starting with the underage kids at your own club is something I’ve thought about for the last few months and I might do more of that next year.”
Under Fitzgerald’s tenure, McGrath feels that Waterford have developed in “fits and starts”.
“We got to the (All-Ireland) final the first year and everyone knows what happened that day. Last year was a tough enough year for me personally, it’s hard when you’re not involved, not going to every single session because of the injury.
“But we did put up a decent fight and we will again next year, I’m confident of that. Davy is young, he’s only learning as well so we all have to blend in together and have a go at this thing together. Otherwise, we won’t succeed.”
The change in selectors will bring something new to the table, the Cnoc Síon talisman believes.
“Maurice Geary and Peter Queally were very good; they’re two men I’ve got a lot of time and good respect for,” he said, commenting on the men who’ve made way for Pat Bennett and Paraic Fanning.
“I suppose you have to freshen things up every now and then and I suppose three years might have been a bit long. But there’s a new set-up next year and the whole package is not finalised yet but it will be a new and fresh approach to things.”
Ken added: “We’ve an experienced bunch of lads there and they know what they have to be doing to keep themselves ticking over between now and January. The young lads do too and they’re all eager, fit and mad for it.”
The 2010 race for glory looks like being one of the most competitive McCarthy Cups in several years, as Brian Cody’s remarkable Kilkenny attempt to stave off Tipperary, Waterford, Cork, Galway and Dublin.
“It’s going to be tough but that’s what you want,” said McGrath.
“A few years ago, a good number of teams had a right chance of winning (the All-Ireland) but for the last couple of years in particular it’s been down to, really, Kilkenny, Tipp and maybe ourselves trying to push on a bit.
“It’s going to be an open Championship next year; there’s a good few teams back in the hunt. I know Cork will go tough on it next year, Galway as well while Dublin have improved. I think we’ll be better next year and I think there’ll be five or six teams right in the hunt.”
All some might want for Christmas are two front teeth. But right now, most Waterford hurling fans would settle for two match-fit knees for one of their greatest ever players. So let’s hope the winter is kind to Ken McGrath. His county, most definitely, still needs him.