(originally posted on boards.ie)
A marvellous combination of work rate, team work and no little skill saw Waterford carve out a great win over Dublin in Walsh Park today, despite playing over 43 minutes without skipper Brick Walsh who was red carded in the 30th minute of the first half. In fact, the win was a little more comfortable than the final score indicates, as Dublin got their goal in the last minute of normal time and a point in injury time. They did have time to launch one final assault on the Waterford goal but Conal Keaney was penalised for charging with the ball and that was that.
It was a dry, mild and very overcast day with a slight breeze blowing towards the city goal which Dublin played with in the first half. However, the pitch was very soft making it difficult to pick the ball and leading to frequent throw-ins. The official attendance was a decent 4,363.
Dublin started very impressively, with their good interpassing and strong running off the ball causing Waterford all sorts of problems in the early minutes, and allowing the visitors to build up a three-point lead, 0-4 to 0-1. However, the Waterford full back line then established a vice-like grip on the Dublin inner line which they maintained right to the end of the game, and with the half back line getting to grips with the game the Waterford comeback began. They eventually edged ahead in the 20th minute and then four minutes later the vital breakthrough goal arrived. Seamus Prendergast had been causing a lot of difficulty for All-Star full back Peter Kelly, and his persistence set up the opening for Pauric Mahony (who played the first half in the corner) who collected beautifully and surged through to give Gary Maguire no chance.
Waterford were then stunned in the 30th minute when referee Cathal McAllister red carded Brick Walsh after consulting with a distant umpire. Waterford initially moved Jamie Nagle to centre back with Shane McNulty moving to the wing, and managed to get to half time five points in front, 1-10 to 0-8. Pauric Mahony accounted for 1-6 of this (1-1 from play) with Seamus Prendergast weighing in with two marvellous points while Kevin Moran and Ryan Donnelly also registered excellent scores.
At the break, Kevin Moran was moved to centre back with Nagle reverting to the wing and Shane O’Sullivan moving out to centre field. That was the move that probably won the game for Waterford, as Moran put in a powerful second half and completely dominated the middle. Dublin maintained their formation which meant their extra man was in the full back line, which made it very difficult for Waterford to create openings with long balls out of defence.
However, at the other end they performed heroically, and the amount of blocking down they did was unreal. Dublin hit several bad wides, but usually while shooting under pressure. It took them until the 28th minute before they finally raised a white flag from an Alan McCrabbe 65. At that stage Waterford were seven points in front thanks to a Mahony free and a great long-range effort from substitute Brian O’Sullivan. Waterford could have been further ahead but Mahony’s radar went a bit askew after the change of ends, as he missed with three difficult long range frees.
At the other end, Stephen O’Keeffe brought off a marvellous save from Dublin substitute Eamon Dillon while a fantastic last-ditch block by Noel Connors denied Conal Keaney as he was about to pull the trigger. Amazingly, with loads of free possession around their half back line, and 6-7 points down, Dublin kept sending low probing balls into their forwards which were repulsed time and time again by the Waterford rearguard. Ironically, the one time they tried route one, it worked for them. A high ball into the goal area was brilliantly fielded by Jamie Nagle in the 70th minute, but his intended hand pass was blocked in heavy traffic with Keaney finishing to the net. With Dillon adding a point there was only a goal in it, but Waterford were not to be denied. Conor McCormack, a late Dublin substitute, was red carded just before the end when he pulled across Jamie Nagle as the ball ran away from them over the sideline.
By now, Waterford must have the tightest defence in Division 1A of the league, with an average of 1-12 conceded in the three games thus far. The entire sextet were immense today. It is hard to believe that Tadhg Bourke was playing just his second senior game today, so assured was his display. His abilities to block opponents and stop them getting possession are extraordinary, while his own skillset on the ball is sublime. Shane Fives followed up with another authoritative display, repeatedly winning possession and bringing the ball out of defence, while Noel Connors was, well, Noel Connors.
Apart from Kevin Moran’s second half performance – and accompanying leadership – Jamie Nagle turned in another masterful performance while Philip Mahony was little behind on the other wing. Things didn’t really go right for Shane McNulty at midfield and his inexperience showed, but he did a lot of good things and he is definitely one for the future. Up front, Pauric Mahony and Seamus Prendergast were the main men. Mahony shipped a heavy tackle in the middle of the second half but recovered to win some great ball in the closing stages. Stephen Molumphy also won some good ball in the first half but faded out a bit after the change of ends. Ray Barry’s lack of physique told against him at times against the hard-tackling Dubliners but he still put in some good work and I was surprised when he was substituted halfway through the second half.
The ball did not run well for Ryan Donnelly (although he took the one chance he got) while Shane O’Sullivan put in a typical hard-working 70 minutes. All five Waterford substitutes did their bit when brought on. Brian O’Sullivan carved out three scoring chances but only nailed one of them.
Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe, Tadhg Bourke, Shane Fives, Noel Connors, Jamie Nagle, Michael Walsh, Philip Mahony, Kevin Moran (0-1), Shane McNulty; Ray Barry, Stephen Molumphy, Shane O’Sullivan, R Donnelly (0-1), Seamus Prendergast (0-2), Pauric Mahony (1-8, 0-7 frees).
Subtitutes: Brian O’Sullivan (0-1) for Donnelly (46); Stephen Roche for McNulty (46); Eddie Barrett for Barry (56); Barry Coughlan for Molumphy (58); Gavin O’Brien for Prendergast (63).
Dublin: Gary Maguire, Cian O’Callaghan, Peter Kelly, Niall Corcoran, Shane Durkin, Liam Rushe, Michael Carton; Colm Cronin (0-1), John McCaffrey (0-1), Joey Boland (0-1), Ryan O’Dwyer, Alan McCrabbe (0-3, all frees), Dotsy O’Callaghan (0-2), Conal Keaney (1-1), Mark Schutte.
Subsitutes: Eamon Dillon (0-1) for Schutte (44); Seán McGrath for O’Callaghan (59); Conor McCormack for Cronin (59).