With the hurlers now grimly looking forward to a potential winter of discontent, weighed down with the baggage of a cataclysmic balance sheet (I can’t even bring myself to refer to the latest self-inflicted financial hammer blow), appalling defeats at underage level and no appearance at Croke Park for the first time in nearly a decade, it speaks volumes that the most likely source of cheer for Waterford from the remainder of 2012 comes from Waterford United. Eek.
And there was precious little cheers on display in the RSC last Friday as the Blues, after seven successive wins, stank the place out in a woeful 1-1 draw with Finn Harps. About the best that can be said for the game from Waterford’s point of view is that the kind of exasperating cheap goal conceded against the run of play came to the Blues this time rather than the opposition as Peter White, unmarked at a corner, headed in from about six inches out to equalise.
It’s probably a bit early to say with certainty that the Blues are a one-man team as they laboured with so little profit in the absence of Seán Maguire. There’s no doubt you’d miss a player of his talent, and there were fleeting moments in the second half when you thought if that ball that just fell in the penalty area had fallen to his feet then the Blues may have capitalised. Still, a team that has won their last seven games is entitled to an off-day and with injuries and suspensions it was more than Maguire that was missed. That run brought the Blues close to Limerick but it was always a big ask that we’d overtake them given their penchant for battering the minnows like, er, Finn Harps, so the time has now come to adjust expectations and prepare for a play-off with Longford Town. Double eek.
The Harps game was also noteworthy for a slightly farcical moment when Seán Maguire’s oh-so-sexy sponsors were unveiled:
You’d want to be as po-faced as John Motson when faced with a streaker on the pitch not to snigger at the juxtapositioning of Waterford’s brightest talent with a company that produces headstones. Still, one can chuckle but one shouldn’t sneer. The sponsorship deal presumably ensures that Maguire will stay with the Blues until the end of the season. And it got me thinking about how domestic soccer is not as far removed from its all-powerful neighbour across the water as it might seem, as least in a temporal sense. The sight of ‘Stan Bergin Monumental Works’ reminded me of a line I read from the late and still-lamented publication 90 Minutes sometime back in the 90’s. The pertinent article referred to a soccer player’s greatest ambition – to get to the point where they could be spotting driving a souped-up Ford with naff furry dice on the rear-view mirror and “Mario’s Motors Dagenham” emblazoned across the side. Such a player would have no problem taking Stan Bergin’s or John Thompson’s shilling. So let’s hear it for the businessmen of Waterford willing to sponsor local sports stars. When Seánie Maguire rattles in the winning goal in the play-off against UCD, we’ll be sure to give the Students a plush burial.