Waterford 2-23 (29) UCC 2-14 (20) – Giveitfong’s view

(originally posted on boards.ie)

Waterford eased to a comfortable nine-point victory in this interesting challenge in Fraher Field last night. The pitch was predictably very heavy but otherwise in good order for the time of year and especially after all the recent rain. It was a fine dry night which got colder as the game progressed, with a stiffish wind blowing towards the river goal.

The game was played in three periods of, respectively, 35, 25 and 20 minutes, an unusual arrangement made all the stranger by the fact that Waterford only had 17 players available and actually played the final period with only 14 on the field.

Despite playing against the wind, Waterford started the stronger and had three points on the board before UCC took over but found it hard to get scores. Waterford then came back to build up a comfortable lead as UCC faded, but they got something of a lifeline with a well-worked goal late in the first period to leave the score at the break 0-13 to 1-6.

UCC resumed strongly, and had got back on terms when a good Maurice Shanahan goal again put daylight between the teams. He got onto a good ball in from midfield and ran at the UCC last line of defence, finishing decisively to the net despite the close attentions of two UCC defenders. Waterford then built on their lead to go in at the end of the second period ahead by 1-20 to 2-12.

We expected UCC to be fitter than Waterford, given the timing of their hurling year, but despite playing into the wind and a man short, Waterford dominated the third period, with Ryan Donnelly putting the icing on the cake with a late goal, when he got onto a ball which broke behind the UCC defence to race in from 30 metres to finish well to the net.

Despite what has been reported in another post, as far as I recall Iggy O’Regan played the whole game in goal. He had little chance with the two goals that beat him and otherwise had little to do with his full back line doing well from start to finish. However, the high trajectory of his puckouts remains a problem.

While we were told that the right full back was Adam O’Sullivan (who, if my memory is correct, scored two goals for Waterford in the 2011 Munster minor hurling final), he looked and played like Shane McNulty. Whoever he was, he had an excellent game, with good drive and anticipation and really good stickwork. If it was O’Sullivan, then on this performance he adds yet another prospect to Derek McGrath’s growing list of players with potential.

Tadhg Bourke was, in anything, even more impressive, and seemed to get better as the game progressed. He started at full back but moved around the place as UCC played just five forwards in a fluid formation. He is strong, very clever, very skilful and mobile with a lovely swerve and definitely one for the future. Mark Wyse also held his own in the full back line.

At right half back Shane Fives (wearing a pair of shorts which would not have passed the late Tony Mansfield’s colour test!) played like a man possessed and was absolutely superb, landing three points before moving to full back in the third period. At centre back Brick Walsh was excellent as usual, while on the left Kevin Moran started well but faded out subsequently and was replaced by Adam Farrell.

Tom Devine had a very good first period in midfield, after which he retired, apparently due to illness, to be replaced by Jake Dillon who put in a hard-working shift. The other starting midfielder was Killian Fitzgerald who made little impression until moved to left half back in the second period, after which he came much more into the game.

Donie Breathnach, at No. 10 and subsequently midfield, was in and out of the game. He ran at the UCC defence on a number of occasions to good effect and ended up with three good points. Maurice Shanahan started at centre forward but moved about the place, and while some have been critical of his performance, he scored 1-3 from play to add to nine pointed frees to give him the same overall tally as he got last Sunday against Dublin. Seamus Keating started at No. 12 but his touch was poor and he made little impression. The same could be said for Mikey Kearney, making his debut, but I am sure we will see a lot more of this fine prospect.

The redoubtable Seamus Prendergast started at full forward but came much more into the game when moved to the half line before running out of steam towards the end of the second period. The lively Ryan Donnelly will be very happy with his harvest of 1-3 and he knows how to score when he gets the ball into his hand.

I didn’t take note of the UCC team, except that Paudie Prendergast played at centre back, Shane Roche at midfield and Jamie Barron (who notched 0-3) at right half forward.

Waterford: Iggy O’Regan; Adam O’Sullivan/Shane McNulty; Tadhg Bourke; Mark Wyse; Shane Fives (0-3); Brick Walsh; Kevin Moran; Tom Devine (0-1); Killian Fitzgerald (0-1); Donie Breathnach (0-3); Maurice Shanahan (1-12, 1-3 from play); Seamus Keating; Ryan Donnelly (1-3); Seamus Prendergast; Mikey Kearney. Subs: Jake Dillon; Adam Farrell.

It should be noted that there were no umpires on duty, and the reported score was a consensual agreement among a group of us in the stand, based mainly on keeping an eye of when referee Michael Wadding made an entry in his notebook.