Well well well. Waterford United have managed eleven goals in eight games this season and Mr Part-Time here has been present for seven of them in just two ‘appearances’. Maybe the Blues should be paying me.
But then it would be giving money to a GAA head and we couldn’t have that. Even on an evening when I decided to devote myself to the Blues, hurling intruded. Well, sort of. Having a few hours to kill before the game I decided to check out Philly Grimes’ pub, and lo! what did I discover but a pub that serves real ales. After a bottle each of Fuller’s India Pale Ale and Wychwood’s King Goblin, and surrounded by hurling memorabilia, it was tempting to carry on reading my book for a few more hours and give the match a miss. However, duty called. Or more pertinently, the opportunity to
rehash re-visit a recent blog post for Tramore Hinterland called. If I was going to pontificate on the League of Ireland then authenticity was called for, so I abandoned a bottle of Brains SA with my name on it and headed up to the RSC.
And I’m glad I did, for the story in next Thursday’s paper has written itself thanks to Seán Maguire. At the Limerick game it was clear that there was something special about this boy, his nerveless finish to win the game having only been on a few moments stirring memories of Robbie Fowler in his pomp. After a decent start for Waterford with Daragh Walshe making the goalie work with a curling effort – more on that later – and Paul Phelan frustratingly wanting one more touch out wide when a quick cross into the box would have found numerous players in position, Maguire produced a moment of magic. It was a long moment as he got the ball about thirty yards out, cut across the flatfooted defender with ease and drilled a stunning low shot into the bottom corner.
It was beautiful, and you could see it lift the entire team. The not-unreasonable strategy seemed to be to get the ball to the number 10 (kudos to the Blues for dispensing with squad numbers this year; you dread to think of Maguire wearing something non-descript in the low 20’s) and at the very least he’d pull the Youths defence all over the shop. He nearly opened the defence in the 30th minute with a vicious cross but Daragh Walshe seemed to be caught by surprise as he headed over. Never mind though, Walsh would soon have his own moment to write home about. Taking a pass with his back to goal the ball flicked up in most fortuitous fashion and he took full advantage, spinning on a sixpence and hitting a pinpoint dipper over the goalkeeper. Another great strike. Truly our cup was running over.
It’s a sign that I’m not a proper supporter that I never doubted this would be enough. It’s a sign that I’m getting there that the caterwauling of a Wexford Youths fans sitting nearby got on my nerves. I mean, what were the odds? I could have moved but I liked the seat on the halfway line of the new stand, which seems to have a better view of the pitch. It doesn’t have unlocked toilets though and (not sure I should admit this in public, as if anyone is reading this) was reduced to taking a leak against the railing while the man next to me railed against the lack of facilities. Even Maguire managed to take him out of his isn’t-everything-a-disgrace rant, sensibly observing that he needs to be signed up, and fast. He doesn’t even have a sponsor at the moment if the programme is to believed.
If there were any doubts about the result they were snuffed out early in the second half, Waterford earning a corner after a good move was charged down and the subsequent corner flopped at he feet of Maguire. Even Andy Carroll wouldn’t have missed this one but as Napoleon might have said, don’t give me strikers who are brilliant, give me those who are lucky. There wasn’t exactly a party atmosphere around the RSC – for a party, you need party-goers – but the place was visibly relaxed compared to the usual angst-ridden demeanour of all and sundry. A stupid free-kick given away in a dangerous position threatened to take the shine off things but the shot was charged down and we could all begin to enjoy ourselves, a steward causing much mirth when he made a hash of an attempt to get the ball back and only succeeded in pushing the ball further into the stands. When the crowd didn’t go potty when two successive penalty appeals were waved away, you knew we had them licked. It was nice to be able to take things easy at a sporting event.
The only question was could Maguire get a hat-trick and he almost did with another piece of impudent brilliance. It wasn’t the best cross from Phelan, lacking any pace to give the forward a chance. But Maguire stopped dead on the spot and simply allowed the ball to bounce off his head and was unlucky to see it bounce off the crossbar. It was the kind of skill that can’t be taught, and surely he would have gotten the match ball had Paul O’Brien left him on. Still, substituting him gave us all the opportunity to give a well-merited ovation. And with a three goal lead Waterford could afford to attack with abandon. Walsh probably should have done better when out in two-on-one but dragged his shot wide. Paul Phelan did manage to hit the target a few minutes later, latching on to low cross after an excellent run from Peter White and thumping the ball into the bottom corner. The celebrations from the players were over the top for a fourth goal – at least, they were until you remember the six-goal battering at the start of the season. Vengeance? More informed voice than mine were certainly thinking along those lines:
Alas, results since have left the Blues stranded. Longford and Limerick look like they’re running away from everyone else and with Mervue United and SD Galway proving to be cannon fodder they’ll be hard to catch. Still, the Blue flag is kept flying high by a young star in the making. Just don’t tell anyone about him. He’ll be our secret.