Experienced McGrath announced his retirement earlier this month in the wake of his first start of the year against Cork in the Allianz League.
Injury-plagued McGrath played at midfield but was substituted early in the second-half and the experience, apparently, convinced him he wasn’t up to the pace of top level hurling anymore.
However, former colleague Shanahan, who retired himself after last year’s championship, partly due to a lack of game time afforded by boss Fitzgerald, was critical of the manager’s decision to play a struggling McGrath in the demanding position.
“That’s the management team’s decision but why not throw him in at centre-forward and see how he gets on there?” questioned Shanahan.
“Or maybe give him 10 minutes and then another 10 or 20 minutes last weekend?
“But you’re throwing him in at the deep end from the start in Fraher Field where there was a massive crowd, 7,000, watching. That’s the decision the management took.”
Asked if he believed McGrath may have privately disagreed with aspects of Fitzgerald’s managerial style like he did, Shanahan gave an intriguing reply. “If Ken said it is purely that (injury), that’s all I’ll say,” continued Shanahan.
“I’ll leave him to come out and talk about that in the future himself.
“Eoin McGrath is still involved too and it’s very hard to criticise and it’s the same with Maurice (Shanahan’s brother) for me. “If I’m here hanging the gaffer, will Maurice get much game time? You can see my point.”
Goal poacher Dan reiterated his own criticisms of Fitzgerald for using him sparingly as an impact sub despite making vital contributions against Galway in the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final and against Cork in last year’s Munster final replay. Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the An Post Cycle Series, which he’ll take part in this summer, the Lismore man also revealed he would have returned in 2011 had Fitzgerald shown more faith in him.
“I probably would have, to be honest with you,” said Shanahan, who said his brother, Maurice, considered his own position over the winter too.
“You must admit that Maurice, by a country mile, was the best club forward in Waterford last year.
“Yet he wasn’t one of the five fellas brought on in the (All-Ireland) semi-final against Tipp. So at the end of the day he had to think himself whether he was coming back or not. He made a decision to come back.”