WATERFORD hurling manager Michael Ryan has confirmed that the door remains open for Eoin Kelly's possible return but admitted that results of a recent fitness assessment conducted on the player were "disappointing."
Ryan admitted to local radio station WLR FM that he had discarded the former captain and two-time All Star because of fitness concerns.
But the former De La Salle supremo also revealed that the decision was taken out of his hands to an extent, due to an alleged unwillingness on Kelly's part to engage in face-to-face talks.
Kelly (29) insisted that he was unwilling to get into the "jigs and reels" of what had been discussed with Ryan but expressed a desire to play his way back into contention with consistent displays at club level for Passage.
Ryan revealed: "We met with Eoin Kelly in October, as we did a number of other players.
"He was then brought in and given a fitness assessment and a gym programme for seven weeks. At the end of seven weeks, he was called in, as the rest of the players were, and given a fitness test by (physical trainer) Pat Flanagan.
"The results of that test were disappointing, to be honest about it.
"I then contacted Eoin and I said to him that we were going to invite him to join the panel for the month of January and see would that make any difference, on one condition that he came in and met us.
"He refused to meet us and I said to him very specifically 'Eoin, do you realise by not meeting us the consequences of your decision?'
"He said 'I do'. I said 'Okay, will you think about that overnight and I'll come back and talk to you tomorrow.' So I rang him again the following day and again, Eoin said that he hadn't changed his mind. That was exactly as he felt.
"So, in effect, Eoin Kelly has effectively ruled himself out of the squad for the moment."
Ryan admitted, however, that there is a possible way back for Kelly, the holder of four Munster SHC medals, if he applies himself in the correct manner over the coming weeks and months. Ryan explained: "The only man that can sort this out is Eoin. I said to him that the system didn't appear to have worked for the last three years; he wasn't at his best.
"He actually said himself that he hadn't been at his best.
"The challenge for us as a management team is to get the best out of every player.
"The panel is completely and absolutely open-ended. If Eoin goes back, does his work and is performing well for his club, we'll look at the situation.
"There's no problem about that. And I think that his career is far from finished -- but it's entirely up to himself. The door is always open -- it's open for Eoin Kelly and every other hurler in Waterford."
Kelly, meanwhile, reacted with disappointment to the news of his exclusion.
The forward reflected: "I have to respect the manager and selectors' decision -- they no longer feel I'm in their plans for 2012.
"I'm disappointed to be gone after 11 years but I have to respect their decision and I wish them all the best of luck for the coming year."
Kelly, also speaking to WLR FM, added: "I'm not going to get into the jigs and reels of what happened. I don't want to be causing any problems or anything like that.
"He (Ryan) felt, I suppose, that I wasn't up to another year -- he made his decision and I have to respect that."
Sources close to Kelly hinted last night that irreparable damage may have been caused by this split but on the record, the player insisted: "I loved always playing for Waterford and if the opportunity arises again, of course I'll grab it with both hands. But at the moment, it's not there so I can't do anything about it.
"All I can do is go back playing with the club and perform there. That might change his mind but at the moment he's the manager and his decision is final."