It was the first gathering of the panel for 2011 and while there were several notable absentees, Fitzgerald gave a run-out to a number of debutants.
“Saturday was a very useful exercise for everyone involved, and has got our preparations for the new playing season off to a very encouraging start,” Fitzgerald said.
At Walsh Park, Waterford beat Carlow 3-17 to 1-10 and many of the same players were again involved two hours later when the Déise accounted for a Waterford IT selection 1-18 to 1-6 at the De La Salle club grounds.
WIT were also considerably below strength having themselves played in Cork earlier in the day.
Fitzgerald said what had pleased him most was the level of commitment and attitude of all his players on view. Many of the newcomers are members of this year’s U21 panel — among them Philip and Pauric Mahony, David O’Sullivan, and Stephen Power of Ballygunner, Mount Sion’s Martin O’Neill and Eoin Whelan, and Eamonn Murphy and Daragh Murray of Dunhill. Also given run-outs were Dungarvan’s Gavin Crotty, Noel Ó Murchú of Ring, and Seamus Hannon of Ballyduff Upper, son of former county star Seamie.
Among the most notable absentees were the experienced Mount Sion duo Tony Browne and Ken McGrath, whose decision to remain with the panel for the coming year has given everyone in the Déise camp a massive lift. However, it’s unlikely either will reappear until the latter stages of the league.
In fact their return could be delayed until the start of the Munster championship which for Waterford is a June 12 semi-final date with Limerick in Semple Stadium. Also missing from Saturday’s outings were first cousins Eoin Kelly and Maurice Shanahan, while all of the De Salle members of the panel, including John Mullane and Kevin Moran, will not be available until De La Salle’s fate in the All-Ireland club championship has been determined. The Waterford champions are preparing for a semi-final meeting with Galway’s Clarinbridge next month.
Waterford’s first competitive outing will be in the Waterford Crystal tournament of which they are the holders. They will have a home tie at Walsh Park on Sunday week, January 23, against either All-Ireland champions Tipperary or University Of Limerick who are meet next weekend.