Deise’s Late Surge Falls Inches Short

A sense of the surreal was as palpable as the traditional Carriganore chill that greeted the 390 patrons who field through the WIT Arena gate on Saturday for this latest meeting of Waterford and Carlow. To be sat in a stand where the only perched Waterfordians appeared to be the three reporters covering the game demonstrated what happens when a run of results come together for a team. If only that applied from a Deise perspective.
Between both stands at Carriganore, there must have been between 300 and 350 travelling supporters who had made the 100-mile round trip to Suirside to cheer on a team which has maintained the momentum generated by their fine Championship showing last summer.

Shane Ryan finds his path impeded by Carlow’s Danny Moran during last Saturday’s NFL clash at the WIT Arena.  									| Photos: Maurice Hennebry

Shane Ryan finds his path impeded by Carlow’s Danny Moran during last Saturday’s NFL clash at the WIT Arena. | Photos: Maurice Hennebry

And those numbers well and truly hit home when the visiting hordes fell silent in the closing moments, as Waterford almost pulled off an audacious and unforeseen recovery, as goals from Gavin Crotty and Paul Whyte were greeted in near silence.
And that silence kicked me, as an observer and lengthy admirer of our county’s footballers, right in the gut. The players cannot have failed to notice this, a feeling many an ex-Waterford United player would empathise with when one recalls the fall-off in gates at the RSC during the decade spent in the First Division wilderness.
Alas, there’s no Lee Power waiting in the wings to help resurrect the fortunes of Tom McGlinchey’s men, and no apparent willingness among the GAA powers that be to give Division Three and Four teams a chance to play sustained levels of inter-county football when nature surely intended: away from wintry breezes in the heart of the summer.
And that Waterford may well have only four more matches to fulfil for the remainder of 2018, having already togged out four times in the League and twice in the McGrath Cup only goes to show how upside down so many things remain when it comes to the GAA calendar.

And if 350 Carlow supporters are willing to make a 100-mile round trip in late February to see their heroes lining out, doesn’t that suggest that there’s a potential match-going market not being tapped into, which, if suitably energise, could create a genuine sense of occasion when it comes to lower tier football? That, alas, is a debate for another day. Waterford, as has been their wont this season, began brightly, with points from JJ Hutchinson (after just 79 seconds), Shane Ryan and Jason Curry sending them 0-3 to 0-1 clear after seven minutes, with the impressive Paul Broderick opening Carlow’s account. Broderick converted four successive frees between the ninth and 15th minutes as Waterford again conceded frees from a position where such indiscretions could be punished. This was also an undoubted factor in the defeat away to Laois. Waterford’s early kick-out policy went somewhat awry as Carlow came to dominate both possession and territory, and a point from Ciaran Moran in the 23rd minute was followed by a near 30-pass move five minutes later, terminating in Sean Gannon finding the Deise net (0-3 to 1-6).

That goal was scored while Waterford were down to 14 men in the wake of Kieran Power’s black carding three minutes previously, during which the one break in play during that period ought to have permitted Gavin Crotty’s introduction. Crotty pointed barely a minute after his introduction to bridge a 22-minute gap between scores for the hosts, before Sean Murphy and JJ Hutchinson traded points in the 31st minute. Broderick’s stoppage time free left Carlow 1-8 to 0-5 clear at the break and seemingly on course for a comfortable victory, similar to Westmeath’s win over the Deise in Ardmore a year ago.
Carlow’s Darragh Foley opened the second half scoring with a 37th minute free and five minutes later, it looked like curtains for Waterford, after Tommy Prendergast lost possession in midfield, catalysing a move finished off by Daniel St Ledger (0-5 to 2-9). Jason Curry landed a 45th minute free, soon followed by another Foley point as both teams began to empty their benches. And Carlow clearly felt it was a case of mission accomplished when replacing Paul Broderick after 52 minutes; granted they were 10 points clear by then. JJ Hutchinson, Paul Whyte and Gavin Crotty all pointed between the 54th and 59th minutes, before substitute Diarmuid Walsh ended a 16-minute wait for Carlow’s 11th point with five minutes of normal time remaining.

Both Paul Whyte and Daniel St Ledger fired home goals on Saturday last.

Both Paul Whyte and Daniel St Ledger fired home goals on Saturday last.

Four minutes later, Brendan Murphy’s high tackle yielded a penalty for Waterford, coolly converted by Gavin Crotty, and in the third minute of injury-time, Paul Whyte fisted the ball into the Carlow net after Shane Ryan had intercepted a poor clearance from the Carlow defence (2-9 to 2-12). Remarkably, Waterford were in the ascendant, seeking an unlikely draw, but a Brendan Murphy in the fifth additional minute maintained Carlow’s 100 per cent record in the division.
An irate Tom McGlinchey made his feelings known to referee Brendan Cawley following the full-time whistle (see Sport 6), while a post-match altercation between both teams thankfully dissipated after a match which had been largely one-way traffic, ended in high drama.

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