Having opted not to play in the Munster Senior Hurling League, Waterford open their 2018 hurling season this Sunday when they host Wexford in the opening round of the National Hurling League.
The Deise will look to get 2018 off on the right foot after the disappointment of September’s All-Ireland hurling final defeat to Galway.
With the new round-robin system in place for the Munster Championship, all counties will need to have a substantial panel built up ahead of the summer.
For Derek McGrath’s men, that panel will be tested straight away.
All-Star goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe is unlikely to feature at Walsh Park.
The Ballygunner net-minder is nursing a knock he sustained in the Munster club final defeat to Na Piarsaigh, while Noel Connors is a doubt as he has been suffering from illness.
“Stephen O’Keeffe has a hamstring concern (that will) probably keep him out of the first game, maybe the first two games – he has it since the Na Piarsaigh match.
“Noel (Connors) has been very sick with the flu. It could keep him out of Sunday. He only came back training with us Sunday morning, he’s been very sick. He had that flu that everyone has been talking about.
Speaking at the launch of the Allianz National Hurling League in Croke Park on Monday, McGrath confirmed bad injury news after the opening round of Fitzgibbon Cup action.
“Tom Devine tore his hamstring playing for UCC last Thursday against CIT.
“He will probably be a month out. He’s having a scan today or tomorrow (Tuesday) so depending on the severity of the tear or the pull.
“He went off early, about 16 minutes into the UCC match. I went into him at half time, I thought it was an ankle injury.”
However, McGrath is thankful that Devine won’t have too long on the sidelines – as the player initially feared the worst:
“The language he used himself was felt he had done ‘a right job’ on it subsequent to that, it’s not as bad, but certainly will be a couple of weeks.”
McGrath also confirmed that Shane Bennett has yet to return to the panel, but he is hopeful that the youngster will return to the set-up
Derek McGrath was speaking at the launch of the Allianz National Hurling League at Croke Park.