EVERGREEN Waterford veteran Tony Browne looks set to commit to the Deise cause for a 19th successive season.
Although the Mount Sion man has yet to make a final decision, he gave the broadest hint yet that he would return for another year, despite previously insisting that the 2009 season would be his last on the inter-county scene.
"Last year I said definitely that was it. After getting knocked out in the semi-final by Kilkenny, I felt, for some strange reason, really fresh. I got injured and I missed the whole lot of the league. So I only played a couple of games last year so I feel really fresh," said Browne, who made his Waterford debut in 1992.
Browne, who will be less than a month shy of his 37th birthday by the time Deise face Clare in their Munster championship opener on June 7, is one of a number of senior players who will sit out the early part of the league campaign.
Along with the likes of Dan Shanahan, Ken McGrath and John Mullane, Browne has been working on a fitness programme with renowned Limerick-based physiotherapist Ger Hartmann that aims to have those players peaking come championship time.
"I decided this year, more than the lads, that I thought a few of them have a lot of miles on the clock," said Waterford boss Davy Fitzgerald. "So most of the lads over 30 and maybe John Mullane (are taking time out) ... We just decided to give him a break for the two months and bring them back."
Meanwhile, Shanahan has become the latest high-profile inter-county player to hit out at the regulations that will force all hurlers to wear a helmet this year.
"I see the GAA's point, but I don't see why they should tell me I have to wear a helmet after 13 years' service to the county," he said. "It might be different for lads who have worn helmets and taken them off, but I'm finding it very hard."