Relief was the watchword for Tadhg de Búrca as he marked his Waterford return after a long-term knee injury in their comprehensive Allianz Hurling League win over Laois on Sunday.

It was the 27-year-old's first competitive start in over a year, having been sidelined since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in December 2020's All-Ireland final defeat to Limerick.

De Búrca lined up at centre-back against Laois and having come through the game at Walsh Park, the Clashmore-Kinsalebeg clubman acknowledged that it was a "big day" on an individual level.

"Definitely relief, even hours before the match, my first match back after 13-14 months," he told RTÉ Sport.

"So definitely a big day for me but glad we got the win, good to see out Laois (who are) tough opponents.

"Obviously, there will be bigger days ahead and we'll focus on them I suppose."

De Búrca paid tribute to the support system that got him through the 14-month absence as he rehabbed and recovered from that most recent of knee injuries.

"It's tough going but I've got good people around me, good physios, helping me through the rehab so I'm just very thankful towards them and the surgeon as well, Ray Moran, he did a good job," he said.

"You're going to get bad thoughts at times but good people around me, good support, family and friends and they'll always be driving you and pushing you forward."

He added: "I had two 40-minute games before this so that was just moreso for the head and a lot of people you know who've done a cruciate before, the head is the big thing, trying to get the confidence back.

"So today will do the world of good for it and hopefully keep going stronger after that.

"(There were) a couple of tough hits which takes the mind off the knee and I got through that, so you can think you're able for everything then."