Saturday, 22nd September 2018
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Disappointing league opener

Well in excess of seven thousand patrons flocked to Walsh Park in the city on Sunday last for the opening round of the Allianz Hurling League. Visitors Wexford, under the stewardship of former Deise boss Davy Fitzgerald, were on the "cusp of a wave" having annexed the Walsh Cup against Kilkenny the previous week. Having been on the wrong end of the scoreboard in the All-Ireland quarter final against Waterford at the redeveloped Parc Ui Chaoimh just six months or so ago, the Slaneysiders were looking to gain some revenge at this their first opportunity. Waterford on the other hand have been inactive in regular competition in recent weeks having also just come back from their holiday to the US and Mexico. That said there was also a huge chance for players to lay down a marker for regular inclusion in the league starting fifteen while also looking for the Summer Championship. It was bumper to bumper as the time sidled up to the two o'clock starting time with a big following expected for both the home and the visiting team. Indeed the start of the game had to delayed some five minutes such was the crowd making their way into the famous old venue. It made for a really good atmosphere for this opening league encounter.

Davy Fitzgerald opted to remain with the nominated opening fifteen while Waterford management under Derek McGrath made just one change with Maurice Shanahan replacing Kieran Bennett at full forward. Following a shooting effort from Darragh Fives which sailed wide of the Wexford posts it was the Slaneysiders who showed they were up to speed with seven unanswered points in the opening sixteen minutes. The opening score from wing back Paudie Foley from midfield in the first minute.

Indeed the Crossabeg Ballymum defender has been a huge addition to the Wexford team this year and was fouled in the second minute for goalkeeper to add a point, the first of a brace by the Glynn-Barntown netminder. Paudie Mahony was just wide with a free in the 6th minute before Lee Chin pointed a free from just outside the fifty metre mark. The afforementioned Foley set up namesake Kevin Foley for point number five and when Chin added another in the 12th minute it began to look ominous for the host team.

In the 16th minute goalkeeper Mark Fanning hit his third long distance point. Finally Waterford had a meaningful attack as Stephen Bennett fired across the Wexford goal but there was no player forward enough to capitalize. In the 19th minute the Waterford scoring opened with a point from the very industrious Jake Dillon. However within a minute Diarmuid O'Keeffe opened the way for wing back Simon Donohoe to point. Waterford had their second point on 22 minutes as Paudie Mahony converted following a foul on Maurice Shanahan. Lee Chin added a point as his fellow county man Paul Morris was booked for an earlier tackle. Pauric Mahony had another converted free for Waterford before Stephen Bennett broke through but the ever alert Fanning in the visitors goal blocked the ball for a 65 which the Ballygunner ace converted 0-9 to 0-4.

Wexford hit a brace of points in a two minute spell as Shaun Murphy placed Aidan Nolan for the first and Chin sent Diarmuid O'Keeffe in for the second 0-11 to 0-4. Paudie Mahony was off target with a free but but hit a point from a free in the 32nd minute. In between Paul Morris brought the best out of Waterford keeper Ian O'Regan. Both teams saw efforts off target but Diarmuid O'Keeffe hit his second point in the 33rd minute before a Foul on Austin Gleeson saw Pauric Mahony add a point. And so as referee Sean Cleere called time on the break the visitors led by double scores 0-12 to 0-6.

SECOND HALF GOALS

A minute after the restart Wexford edged another point clear as Lee Chin pointed but this saw Waterford hit four in six minutes. Pauric Mahony hit the target and this was followed by another from Jamie Barron with superb interplay from both 2018 all-stars Kevin Moran and Barron. On 41 minutes Tommy Ryan had his name on the scoreboard and a minute later Tadhg de Burca added point number ten for Waterford. The Deise were certainly now in the ascendancy but they were rocked to the foundations a minute later as full forward David Dunne escaped the Waterford defence to goal 1-14 to 0-11. In the 48th minute a long distance free from mark Fanning saw Dunne collect and win a free which Lee Chin pointed.

Waterford had point number twelve in the 52nd minute from Mahony but Wexford answered with a brace from Paul Morris and Lee Chin 1-17 to 0-12. A foul on Jake Dillon in the 55th minute and Pauric Mahony pointed. The respite was soon over as David Dunne, who was causing all sorts of problems to the Waterford defenders, hit a goal and a point in a two minute spell just before the sixtieth minute. In fairness to Waterford they came right back at their visitors and Mahony, three points from frees and one from Austin Gleeson saw the lead back to seven points with six minutes plus additional time on the clock. Could they dig this one out of the fire, we wondered?. As Davy Fitzgerald began to use players from the bench, Lee Chin again hit the target and Dunne from out wide saw his effort sail over 2-20 to 0-17.

In the time remaining Waterford added a brace of points from Darragh Fives and Pauric Mahony but, it was all too little too late although, we will never know what might have happened if an effort from Austin Gleeson, which was kept out by both Fanning and the post, had billowed the net.

A disappointing loss of two points but the management and players will no doubt be more than aware that the Tipperary game in Thurles next weekend is of huge significance what with the Premier going down to Clare at the weekend. Even at this early stage a loss will make the position that much harder with Kilkenny, Cork and Clare on the horizon.

FOOTBALLERS POSITIVE START

Tom McGlinchy and his Waterford football charges travelled to Aughrim on Sunday afternoon for the opening round of the Allianz National Football League and came away with a very creditable draw 0-12 apiece. In cold conditions Jason Curry opened the scoring for Waterford but Seanie Furlong levelled for the hosts almost immediately. Waterford through the exploits of Curry and Joey Veale edged 0-4 to 0-1 ahead midway through the half but Dan Keane and Furlong added points to see Wicklow back to within a point 04 to 0-3. Paul Whyte and Gearoid Murphy hit a point apiece before Seanie Furlong tied the score 0-5 each at the break.

The second half opened with Wicklow on the front foot and points from Darren Hayden and a Gearoid Murphy free saw the Garden County ahead by two. Jason Curry, Joey Veale and Paul Whyte kept the Waterford scoreboard ticking along as indeed did Gearoid Murphy and Seanie Furlong for Wicklow. Level at 0-12 each and the game deep into injury time Wicklow got what looked like the winning free but, from a very scorable position and to the relief of the Waterford contingent, the ball was pulled wide by Gearoid Murphy. A point on the road for Waterford is most welcome and hopefully they will be able to build on it for all the upcoming challenges beginning next weekend with the visit of Antrim to Fraher Field.

ARDMORE INTO ALL-IRELAND FINAL SHOWDOWN

Last weekend saw Ardmore come through their All-Ireland Junior semi-final against Setanta of Donegal on a 4-12 to 0-13 scoreline. Incidentally the men from Tir Conaill being the first from the county to win an Ulster Junior Hurling title. This win for Ardmore sees the men from the "Big Strand " into a Croke Park final showdown against Wexford champions St Mogue's from Fethard on Sunday next. The Waterford representatives had been in scintillating form throughout 2017 and have carried that into 2018. A goal from Young Player of the Year, James Flavin, in the eighteenth minute gave Ardmore a 1-3 to 0-4 lead which they held to the end. Centre back Seamus Keating, along with Niall and Richie Hennessy held the defence together while up front Seamus Prendergast was proving more than a handful for the Donegal defence. A goal before the break from the latter saw Ardmore ahead 2-8 to 0-5 and despite the efforts of Kevin Campbell, Bernard Lafferty and Declan Coulter the Deise lads held that nine point lead at the break.

In the second half Ardmore continued to hold their advantage and when Prendergast sent David gartland through the centre forward crashed home. Ardmore had goal number four just before the end as James Flavin was on hand to finish clinically to the net after which Setanta goalkeeper Ciaran Bellew was red carded for a foul on Flavin. And so Ardmore are through and we wish all the very best of good luck in their Croke Park adventure.

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