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Waterford boss confirms key forward set to miss entire 2018 season

Derek McGrath hasn’t been able to persuade Shane Bennett back to the Deise setup.

WATERFORD MANAGER DEREK McGrath has resigned to planning without attacker Shane Bennett for the 2018 season.

It first emerged last December that the Ballysaggart forward was taking a break from the game and after McGrath expressed his hope in January that Bennett would rejoin their squad, he revealed yesterday that it looks like a ‘no go’ in terms of the 21-year-old lining out for the Deise this summer.

Shane Bennett scores his side's second goal Shane Bennett was a key figure in Waterford's run to last year's All-Ireland hurling final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“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.

The 19th Annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge Launch Derek McGrath at yesterday's launch of the 19th annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge. Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

“Tom Devine came to us at the end of the league last year and said he was going travelling for the summer. I’m not sure if Shane is definitely going travelling or not, but I’m sure there’s alternatives there in terms of what he wants to do.

Tom Devine arriving at Walsh Park before the game Tom Devine in back in the Waterford ranks for the 2018 season. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“We have a very tight group. A lot of the lads will be asking about Shane but I think it’s important to move forward now and it’s not as if we don’t have an open-ended panel, but we’ll just move forward now and see where we go in the championship and we wish Shane well. He’s a great lad.”

An All-Ireland minor and U21 winner with the county, Bennett joined the senior setup straight out of minor ranks in 2015, the year when he sat his Leaving Cert, and has a lot of hurling miles on his clock since then.

“He was straight in (from minor),” says McGrath.


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Shane Bennett tackles Conor Lehane Waterford's Shane Bennett goes up against Cork's Conor Lehane during his senior championship debut in 2015. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO


“Even if you look at it really closely, Paddy (Curran) and himself were probably the most talked about minors outside of Austin (Gleeson).

“Shane came straight in for us, Paddy was doing exams the year we won the league and Shane played the first three league games for us that year as a teenager. He came on against Limerick on Valetine’s night down in Limerick, he played against Offaly in Tullamore then he took a break.

“Then he came on against Cork when we beat them in the 2015 semi-final and came on in the Munster final. He started against Dublin when he got the goal off the ground so he’s gone straight into it in a very, I won’t say pressurised environment, but all the time being asked to get the best out of himself all the time from 18 to 21.

Shane Bennett celebrates scoring his side's opening goal Shane Bennett celebrates hitting the net against Dublin in 2015. Source: James Crombie/INPHO


“Its hard going, he’s entitled to the break. He’s playing a bit of soccer I know and he’s enjoying it so we wish him well. ”

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Fintan O'Toole

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