Sunday, 23rd April 2017
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Disappointing end for Waterford

Having led Galway a merry dance for three quarters of the game in their Allianz National Hurling League quarter final at Pearse Stadium in Salthill, it was a huge disappointment for Waterford supporters as all the good work came to nought and the hosts ran out 2-22 to 2-19 winners to clinch their place in the semi-final of the competition. Two goals from Tom Devine midway through the second half seemed to have set up the Deise for victory but a whirlwind finish from Galway led by Joe Canning saw the Tribesmen home.

There was a fine crowd gathered in Galway for this clash of two teams with huge potential. While both have not shown anything like their best throughout the competition there was a feeling that a win would garner huge confidence for the challenges ahead. The Waterford management decided to ring the changes and drafted in "new blood" throughout the field to give game time to many of the players on the fringes of the perceived first fifteen. Indeed from the opening minute when Maurice Shanahan converted a free, following a foul on Tommy Ryan, the scene was set for the early exchanges. DJ Foran was just wide with an effort a minute later. Goalkeeper Ian O'Regan placed a free to Stephen Bennett for the Ballysaggart man to point in the 5th minute and two more unanswered points in the following minutes saw the visitors well on top 0-3 to 0-0. Indeed it was the delivery from O'Regan again which picked out Foran for the Portlaw clubman to score. The Galway shooting was off target as Waterford pressurised and saw David Burke, Jonny Coen and Conor Cooney all wide of the mark.

A point from Kevin Moran and a superb effort from centre forward Stephen Roche saw the Deise ahead 0-6 to 0-0 before ten minutes had elapsed. This was surely "glad tidings" as far as Derek McGrath and his management were concerned as indeed it was for the Waterford support.

Finally after eleven minutes Galway "broke their duck" with Conor Whelan pointing. Ian O'Regan found fellow clubman Stephen Roche from the puckout and the latter added his second point. Maurice Shanahan was wide with a couple of efforts as Waterford dominated. Joe Canning, who was later to have a huge influence on the outcome, converted a free but three in a row for Waterford from DJ Foran and Maurice Shanahan (2) saw the lead out to eight points 0-10 to 0-2. Jonny Coen and Joe Canning brought up seven wides for the Galwaymen. In the 20th minute Waterford were awarded a penalty but Ian O'Regan brought off a terrific save from Joe Canning to thwart the Portumna man. Midfielder Mark O'Brian landed a good point for Waterford 0-11 to 0-2.

While Waterford at this stage had all the momentum the tide turned a little in the 23rd minute as Cathal Mannion placed Conor Cooney and the St Thomas player crashed the ball to the net from a difficult angle. Undaunted Waterford came straight back and a brace of points from Maurice Shanahan and Seamus Keating saw the Deise ahead 0-13 to 1-2. No doubt, even at this early stage, Galway were feeling the game slip away however points from Canning (2), Cathal Mannion and Conor Whelan edged them back to within four 0-13 to 1-9. In between Waterford did have two efforts from Tommy Ryan just outside the posts. Stephen Roche had a Waterford point to stem the flow but three more unanswered scores from Cathal Mannion, Joe Canning and Thomas Monaghan and the lead was down to just two 0-14 to 1-9. A point on the call of half time saw the Deise ahead 0-15 to 1-9.

The second half began with Conor Whelan shooting wide before goalkeeper Colm Callanan was called into action to parry an effort from Stephen Bennett. Two point from Tommy Ryan and Maurice Shanahan edged Waterford that little bit further in front. Joseph Cooney and Thomas Monaghan saw efforts off target for Galway to bring their wide count to ten. Joe Canning had a point for Galway on 41 minutes 0-17 to 1-10 but when Tom Devine struck two goals in as many minutes Waterford were 2-17 to 1-10 ahead. It all appeared to be "back on track". Shane Bennett replaced DJ Foran in the Waterford attack. Joe Canning and Kevin Moran exchanged points and Canning added another as the clock passed the fifty minute mark. A foul on Aidan Harte saw Canning land the first of three in a row for the ace freetaker 2-18 to 1-15. It began to get a little edge again for the supporters although we were still six points ahead. Niall Burke and Tom Devine had a point apiece to see the Deise retain that six point lead 2-19 to 1-16. Substitutes Michael Walsh and Brian O'Halloran saw action as Niall Burke landed a Galway point. In the 60th minute Aidan Harte had a Galway point and when Niall Burke and Conor Whelan added a brace there was definite worry among the supporters 2-19 to 1-19. Paraic Mahony replaced Stephen Roche in the deise attack. A long delivery into the Waterford goalmouth forced a penalty and this time Joe Canning gave Ian O'Regan little chance and the sides were, incredibly, level 2-19 apiece. It was panic stations all round as both teams went for the win. Padraig Mannion put Galway ahead, for the first time, in the 64th minute and the tide had certainly turned in favour of the Tribesmen. The home side began to boss the game as they closed down any potential danger from Waterford attacks. Aidan Harte added another point in the 65th minute as the pressure mounted. Both teams missed a couple of chances but the final score fell the way of Galway as David Burke landed a point to seal a superb victory for Galway.

Whatever way one looks at it, this game was there for the Deise but no score for the last seventeen or eighteen minutes was never going to be good enough in a match of this magnitude. On the plus side a number of players given their initial outing in competition did show up well and perhaps the so called first fifteen will be looking over their shoulders come championship time. For Galway Joe Canning, as he has done on many occasion, proved that he can be a match winner and his personal haul of 1-10 helped drive his team to victory.

Disappointing but, the year is far from over.

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