Twenty-one-year-old Shane Bennett is taking what’s been described as an extended break from the Waterford senior hurling panel, manager Derek McGrath has disclosed.
The Ballysaggart clubman, who was a starter in each of Waterford’s Championship matches, may well be back before the end of the National League, according to the Deise boss.
“He’s been on the road for the last three years so we’re just giving him a bit of time more than anything else,” said McGrath.
“We didn’t meet, we spoke over the phone, but he’s having a small bit of a break and we’re hoping he’ll come back in the spring.”
Derek McGrath added: “A lot of these guys – Patrick (Curran), Stephen (Bennett), Shane, Tom (Devine), Tadhg (de Burca) – they were brought into the senior set-up straight from minor, and they’ve been on a three-year relentless drive since for the Holy Grail. People don’t stand back and see that. I wouldn’t say they’re cheesed off but it’s important to stand back and give them the space necessary. We’d be aware of that with the panel. It’s what happened last year with Tom, he wanted to go travelling, so we can’t be hypocritical in how we approach things.”
Waterford have opted out of the Munster Senior Hurling League, largely due to the fact that they will not return from their trip to New York and Cancun until Saturday, January 6th.
As for collective training, Derek McGrath stated: “We’re finding it hard to get fellas together because Ballygunner went so far in the Munster Club, so it’d be unwise to ask them back in straight away, for instance.”
He stated: “Like everyone, we’re doing a bit in the gym and so on, but you’d hope that momentum from getting to the All-Ireland would get you some way into the League, but the other side is you’re worried you don’t have enough done ahead of the League when other teams are clearly focused on that competition. You don’t want to get carried away with looking beyond the League, but there’s definitely a new dynamic with the new Championship format.”
Meanwhile, Pauric Mahony landed no less than 10 goals as the 2017 All-Stars defeated their 2016 counterparts by 30 goals to 23 in the All-Stars (goals only) match played in Singapore last Saturday. Tadhg de Burca grabbed a brace while Noel Connors also goaled for the 2017 selection. Austin Gleeson, lining out for the 2016 team, also scored twice.