Tuesday, 18th September 2018
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Corner turned

I just wonder if Waterford bainisteoir Derek McGrath wished he could turn back the clock to the beginning of the Allianz National Hurling League following another superb display by his charges against high flying Clare last Sunday afternoon. Before this contest the visitors had already secured a quarter final place but there was still the matter of who they would face in the knockout stages. Having beaten Cork the previous weekend the Deise management must surely bemoan the three defeats in the opening games of the competition which realistically has seen Waterford out of contention for a quarter final place.

In recent years the Waterford record at the Keanes Road venue has been dismal. One has to go back to February 2016 for the last success. That bogey was certainly "put to bed" on Sunday afternoon as the Deise were thoroughly deserving winners over the Banner on a 1-23 to 1-20 scoreline. The final result did not change the fact that the home team were still in a relegation playoff this coming Saturday but the manner of the display was a terrific boost to the confidence going into that showdown against Cork.

Before a crowd of over two and a half thousand patrons it was the visitors who were the more impressive in the opening quarter. Playing against the breeze the Clare management of Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor would have been delighted with the response of their team which saw the Banner ahead 1-8 to 0-5 in the opening quarter. The goal from Conor McGrath had seen some superb work from John Conlon and Ian Galvin in the set up. However Waterford through the superb sharpshooting of Dungarvan clubman Patrick Curran were hanging on to the coat tails of the visitors.

Inspired by both Austin Gleeson and Mikey Kearney along with Curran, Waterford hit seven unanswered points (five from Curran) to edge the scoreboard 0-12 to 1-8. An effort by Stephen Bennett in the dying minutes of the half was blocked but Patrick Curran was on hand to drive the ball to the net to leave derek McGrath's outfit ahead 1-13 to 1-10 as referee Johnny Murphy from Limerick called a halt to the opening half proceedings.

Clare were quickly back on the "front foot" in the opening minutes of the second half with former player of the year Tony Kelly very much to the fore. His brace along with one from Peter Duggan helped to level the tie 1-13 apiece. However Waterford through Patrick Curran and Mikey Kearney regained a two point lead but it was again brought back to parity with points from Duggan and John Conlon. Waterford now facing the breeze were beginning to gain momentum and three points from Curran and two from Kearney saw the pendulum swing very much in favour of the home side. That said Clare were also very dangerous with Tony Kelly and John Conlon adding points for the Banner.

Despite a huge effort from the visitors this day Waterford were not going to be denied and while the magnificent Patrick Curran (1-13 in total) was the chief architect there were some excellent performances from the Waterford team throughout the pitch. Austin Gleeson is coming back to the form of 2017 while some of the young brigade are certainly laying down a marker for inclusion later in the championship. I would also ask why intercounty teams are so preoccupied with releasing a team for the programme and then making so many changes to the starting lineup. So frustrating for the patrons who have to fork out for a programme.

However at the end of the day the management will be very pleased with the response from those on the fringes of the first fifteen and rightly so. I guess it is better to give players an opportunity now and know than not know at all. Now we can travel to Leeside to face Cork whom we play in a relegation playoff match in Pairc Ui Rinn next weekend. Some more of the same would do very nicely

FOOTBALLERS DENIED AT THE END

Tom McGlinchy and his Waterford Senior Football travelled to Martinstown on Saturday to face fellow strugglers Limerick in desperate need of a win and a confidence boost as the games trickle away in the Allianz National League. Both teams are rooted at the bottom and while on a number of occasions, particularly in the case of Waterford, they allowed a winning chance to slip away. The home side were first to settle with a goal from James Lee giving them a four point lead within five minutes. Gavin Crotty opened the scoring for the visitors but they found themselves behind 1-6 to 1-14 at the break. The Waterford goal from a thirty minute Gavin Crotty penalty allied to points from Crotty, Conor Murray and JJ Hutchinson. Although Limerick had the better of the opening minutes it was the Deise who edged the second half and a goal from Michael Curry, who raced from centre back to creep behind the Limerick rearguard and slide the ball home, saw them in position to take the points 2-9 to 1-9. However the home side came with a flourish in those final five minutes and a bundled goal from Seamus O'Carroll, after the defence failed to clear, followed by a late late point from Robbie Bourke gave the Shannonsiders the victory that took them off the bottom rung of the ladder.

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