CLARE manager Davy Fitzgerald insists former Waterford star John Mullane "still has more to give" at inter-county level, but sources close to the player last night firmly ruled out any prospect of a comeback.
Fitzgerald served as Deise boss for three-and-a-half years, leading them to an All-Ireland final in 2008, and said yesterday that he believes Mullane could return to the county fold later in the season.
"I wouldn't be surprised," Fitzgerald said. "Would I like to see it? Maybe not against Clare! But you will miss this guy around, no matter what the story is. He has flair and the game needs flair. It needs that passion and flair.
"And I am saying this 100pc, even though I'm meant to have said different. John Mullane, in my opinion, still has something to offer."
Mullane celebrated wildly in front of his former manager when Waterford toppled Clare in last year's Munster SHC semi-final.
Fitzgerald suggested afterwards that Mullane had been wrongly told that he had stated the forward was past his best, and the Sixmilebridge man insists there is no bad blood between the pair as Clare take on Waterford in Ennis this weekend.
"I think John was told something to build him up," said Fitzgerald (pictured above). "And if something gets into John's head it is very hard to change it.
"I don't think we should ever try to change John Mullane. I spent a lot of years there and (with) his enthusiasm and passion... (though) we often had one or two words down below – I would have had serious respect for him as a player.
"You don't need to change that lad. And I'm sorry to see him gone. I really, genuinely am. We don't want to have boring characters out there, we want to have characters who wear their heart on their sleeve, it means something to them.
"It means something to him to play for Waterford and we need those guys. Whether you fight with them or don't fight with them, you would have to respect them for their passion.
"To hurling in general, John Mullane is going to be a massive loss. I think John Mullane still has more to give."