Footballers suffer defeat to Carlow
After such a promising start to the Allianz National Football League where Waterford defeated both London and Wicklow in their opening games, it seems that inconsistency has again reared it's head. On Saturday last at Cullen Park the home side, Carlow, came through in comprehensive fashion on a 2-10 to 0-7 scoreline to send the Deise to a third defeat in a row and ultimately rule them out of any hope of promotion. However, before the game there was a certain degree of confidence in the Waterford camp. Both the defeats to table toppers Wexford and Westmeath were close run affairs and showed that the lads could certainly hold their own in the division. With a little luck they were well capable of taking the points home from the South Leinster venue.
Before the throw-in manager Tom McGlinchy made four personnel changes with Caoimhin McGuire of Gaultier, Kenny Murphy Ardmore, Kieran Murphy St Saviours and Feargal O'Cuirrin An Rinn all making the starting fifteen. However it didn't take long for Carlow to swing the pendulum towards the host county as Sean Gannon and Paul Broderick eluded the Waterford defence for the latter to goal. The Tinryland goalscorer was also one of four changes that Carlow manager Turlough O'Brien made before the start. Although there was precious little between the sides in the opening quarter Waterford, playing with the elements at their backs, could never muster enough scores to build up a lead. The goal was still the difference between the sides at the break as Carlow led 1-5 to 0-5. Indeed it could well have been worse as Deise keeper Stephen Enright of Abbeyside/Ballinacourty made a splendid save from a goalbound shot from Gary Kelly in the 25th minute.
Two minutes after halftime Carlow struck for the second time. Again it was a combination of Gannon and Broderick which saw the latter find the net. There was no way back for the visitors with the scoreboard and the elements against them. Two late points for Waterford through the efforts of Donie Breathnach and Paul Whyte were scant reward for their endeavours. Tom McGlinchy and his backroom team will have to raise the morale once again as the team face Limerick in Fraher Field on Sunday next 25th before going to Leitrin to play the home side in their final game of the series on April 2nd. The men from the Treatystone are themselves going through a "sticky" patch with just one win on the board, against London. This is certainly a game that the Deise can win. Consistency and a return to the form of their opening games and I have no doubt but Waterford will take the points on offer.
DUEL IN ENNIS
Sunday next should see a huge crowd make their way to Cusack Park in Ennis for what is literally a showdown between Clare and Waterford in the final round of the Allianz National Hurling League. That said a draw, and I'm not for a minute expecting that, will see both teams qualify for the knockout stages. As it stands Tipperary, unbeaten, are through to the next stage. Depending on results any one of the other five can also make the knockout stage. I'm not even going down that road.
Waterford have had a bit of a topsy turvey league campaign thus far. Superb against Kilkenny on opening day, they never performed against All-Ireland champions Tipperary in Walsh Park. The team then travelled to Croke Park to face Dublin and for forty minutes struggled but, when they found their feet they were excellent and won comfortably. Up next at Walsh Park they faced Cork and again appeared "flat", going down to the Rebels rather alarmingly by eight points. I fully expect that we will see a Waterford team return to form and grind out a win to catapult them into the knockout stage of the league. No doubt Derek McGrath and his backroom team will stick closely to that which played Cork although a number of players who have come into the action in recent games have done themselves no harm as far as a start is concerned. Two excellent goalkeepers in Stephen O'Keeffe and Ian O'Regan, either of whom will form a solid last line of defence. Full back Barry Coughlan will man the edge of the square with Noel Connors and Shane Fives in the corners. Tadhg de Burca has returned to form and may well form a launching pad in the half back line with Kevin Moran. Player of the year Austin Gleeson has seen much of the action in attack but I believe his best position is in defence or midfield. Jamie Barron has proven time and again that the engine room midfield will see gain the upper hand. Up front players like sharpshooter Pauric Mahony, Michael Walsh, Maurice Shanahan, Shane and Stephen Bennett will cause huge problems if given the proper supply of ball. Waterford have now a solid bench with players ready and willing to give it their all if called into action. Perhaps, dare I say, this is one of the strongest panels the county has produced in a long time and the building continues.
The Clare management will certainly welcome back their Ballyea contingent who lost to Dublin champions Cuala in the All-Ireland club final on Friday. These include former player of the year Tony Kelly who on his day can be a driving force for the Banner. The Clare joint managers have been dealt a number of blows before a ball has been hit with long term Conor Ryan out for the year and corner back Oisin O'Brien and marquee forward Shane O'Donnell ruled out for a number of weeks. That said the banner have always been a difficult opponent more especially in Cusack Park and I expect more of the same on Sunday. Goalkeeper Patrick Kelly has proven solid at the back with experienced
Trio David McInerney, Cian Dillon and Seadna Morey closing the roads to goal. Brendan Bugler will hold down a half back position with David Reidy and Jamie Shanahan manning midfield. While they struggled for long periods against Dublin there is danger in every line of the forward division. Podge Collins and John Conlon in the half forward line and Peter Duggan and Aaron Shanaghar in the full forward line. Add in the likes of Ian Galvin and the afforementioned Tony Kelly, Anthony Cunningham and Ian Galvin and the Waterford defence will have to be "on their toes" for all seventy odd minutes.
All things considered I expect that we will go to Ennis and get a win. No doubt Clare have been on the horizon since the final of the Allianz League 2016. What more incentive do we need?