Derek McGrath has given confirmation of a huge blow to the Déise with the news that Shane Bennett will not be returning to the panel for 2018.
In a difficult system for attackers, Shane Bennett has excelled ever since his introduction to inter-county hurling as a Leaving Cert student in 2015.
The 21-year-old made his debut against Cork in 2015 as a substitute but has been a mainstay of the first XV up until last year’s All-Ireland final.
Bennett’s loss in last year’s September finale was evident as the Ballysaggart man was forced off with an injury after roughly 20 minutes.
Waterford supporters didn’t expect at the time however that they would not see Bennett return in 2018.
News broke in the Déise last winter however that Bennett would not be returning to the panel for the upcoming year.
Derek McGrath had expressed his hope that Shane would return, however, speaking to The42.ie, the Waterford boss confirmed the news.
“I spoke to Shane the Friday before we played Kilkenny and it was probably my fourth or fifth time speaking to him and I’ve been unable to persuade him to come back. He’s hoping to travel, he’s got other alternatives in terms of travel and we just have to wish him well. It looks like there’s no go for Shane in terms of coming back. “
“As I’ve said, we’ve tried very hard now in terms of conversations with him. He’s a very important player for us but he’s absolutely entitled not to commit to it as well. We have to have respect to that. Over the four years we’ve espoused the whole value of living.”
Waterford, of course, suffered a similar loss last year when news emerged that Tom Devine would be opting to travel for the summer.
McGrath is uncertain if Shane Bennett is planning to travel or not, however, the De La Salle school teacher fully respects Bennett’s decision.
McGrath was quick to point to the instant move to senior hurling after minor as a possible reason for needing a break.
“He was straight in (from minor), Even if you look at it really closely, Paddy (Curran) and himself were probably the most talked about minors outside of Austin (Gleeson).”
The Waterford boss will now be forced to plan without one of his most efficient and hard-working forwards.
McGrath has overseen Waterford’s most consistent form after receiving a side in transition and came narrowly close to a famous All-Ireland final victory last September.