Twice in the space of a week Waterford teams let big leads established early in the second half slip. Last weekend Ballysaggart were ten points up against Kickham Creggans – or is it Creggan Kickhams? It seems to be the former but the latter is used by what should be reliable sources, sometimes in the same report – and yesterday the county team let a five point lead slip against Tipperary.
There’s a big difference between ten points and five points, although when you consider it was a ten-point swing for Ballysaggart, who ended up level at full-time, and an eight-point one for Waterford, who lost by three, it’s not that big. The manner of the swings was different as well. Without wanting to dismiss the achievements of Ballysaggart, and they’ve done themselves and the county proud, it seems hard to claim that they were anything other than second best to their Antrim opponents. The ten point lead probably flattered them a little, padded out as it was with three goals, and the way CK/KC horsed them out of it for much of the 110 minutes that followed means they don’t need to feel they left it behind them. I don’t think the same can be said for Waterford, who hit eight wides in the first half and were finally undone by a horror show goal as a free out from Tipperary goalkeeper Darren Gleeson sailed all the way to the net. It’s hardly the end of the world for the new management team – only twice in thirteen previous League visits have Waterford left Thurles with maximum points – but an opportunity to make a bold statement has been missed.
What both ties have in common is the nagging feeling that Waterford teams don’t have what it takes to make those kind of leads count. The smirking that accompanied Waterford’s late implosion in the Munster Minor final was hard to take, and that was just from people within the county exasperated at what they saw as showboating on the part of a team that was getting arrogant about their own ability. Close it out with the minimum of fuss? Not the Waterford way.
I’m reading too much into this, but the rub is that I’m reading anything into it all. Last year it was Tipperary who let as big a lead slip much later in the game against us, yet you can be sure they haven’t given it a second thought since. If nothing else Derek McGrath would be a success if we could stop having these thoughts. The reduced angst would make it all worthwhile.