McGrath unable to coax Bennett back to Déise fold

Ballysaggart man sticking by his intention to take a break from the game

Waterford hurling manager Derek McGrath has finally conceded defeat in his efforts to lure Shane Bennett back into the county fold.

Former minor star Bennett, 21, started all of Waterford's Championship games last year and all but one of their Allianz league ties, scoring 2-1 in their run to the All-Ireland final.

But the Ballysaggart man told McGrath during the close season that he was taking a break from the game and has stuck to his word despite his manager’s pleas to reconsider.

It’s a blow to Waterford’s hopes of ending their All-Ireland title drought as well as their bid to avoid relegation to Division 1B of the league after a slow start to the year.


“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,” said McGrath.

Tom Devine came to us at the end of the league last year and said he was going travelling for the summer

“He’s hoping to travel, he’s also got other alternatives in mind if he doesn’t travel and we just have to wish him well. It looks like it’s no go for Shane in terms of coming back.

“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 for for that. Over the four years we’ve been there, we’ve espoused the whole value of living too.

"Tom Devine came to us at the end of the league last year and said he was going travelling for the summer."

McGrath, who has led Waterford to five major finals since taking over for the 2014 season, indicated that Bennett was mentally tired after playing so much, so young.

“Paddy [Curran] and himself were probably the most talked about minors outside of Austin [Gleeson] in that team and Shane came straight in for us,” said McGrath. “Paddy was doing exams the year we won the league, in 2015, and Shane played the first three league games for us that year as a teenager.

"He came on against Limerick on Valentine's night down in Limerick, he played against Offaly in Tullamore, then he took a break. He came back 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 he’s being asked to get the best out of himself, from the time he was 18 to 21. It’s hard going, he’s entitled to the break.”