Last Minute Agony For Gutted Deisemen

Waterford’s Michael Curry sees his shot blocked by Antrim’s Sean McVeigh.

Waterford’s Michael Curry sees his shot blocked by Antrim’s Sean McVeigh.

National Football League Division Four

Waterford 0-13
Antrim 0-15

Another two-point defeat, the third in this League campaign alone. Another one that got away. Another frustrating reversal for the footballers of Waterford. Another disappointing day in this most troublesome and tricky of divisions.

That Waterford played with guts and commitment can be unquestioned by the small number who struck around in Walsh Park to see the second part of last Sunday’s League double header.

That they ought to have won on the basis of goalscoring chances created is also undoubted. But Antrim’s greater free-taking accuracy, as exemplified by the exemplary CJ McGourty and Michael Pollock, who converted nine dead balls, which, when contrasted with the host’s profligacy in front of goal, ultimately proved critical.

The visitors made most of the early running, with a brace of frees by McGourty and Pollock apiece leaving them 0-4 to 0-2 ahead by the 16th minute, with Paul Whyte registering Waterford’s replies in the eighth and 12th minutes respectively.

McGourty’s third free in the 18th minute went in off the right hand post, with JJ Hutchinson finding a quick response for Waterford from the next attack barely a minute later. Two more superbly converted McGourty frees in the 21st and 26th minutes left Waterford trailing by four, but Tom McGlinchey’s men rallied well through Whyte (another free) and a smashing Patrick Hurney point just shy of the half-hour mark.

McGourty pointed another free for Antrim in the 31st minute before his goalkeeper Chris Kerr smothered Paul Whyte’s shot after Hurney sent the Kilrossanty man through on goal. Whyte converted a free on the stroke of half-time to leave the Deise trailing 0-8 to 0-6, and both Whyte and Veale had another goalscoring chance snuffed out prior to the interval.

Michael Pollock opened the second half scoring with a superbly struck shot from wide on the left, some 30 metres from goal, with Shane Briggs, redeployed at midfield, finding a rapid response for Waterford off the next offensive foray.

Pollock converted another free in the 38th minute before Whyte, showing more of the form which has made him such a marked man at club level struck from distance in the 43rd minute to keep Waterford in touch. The contest was picking up a few notches and those who chose to stay on for the second match last Sunday were rewarded for so doing.

Paul Whyte struck home another free in the 46th minute before McGourty finished off a move instigated by the surging corner-back Declan Lynch three minutes later. Wing-forward Conor Murray found his range for Antrim with a well-struck 50th minute point before Chris Kerr denied Waterford another potential goal after Joey Veale released Whyte in on goal once more.

Whyte struck the resulting 45 between the posts to leave just two points between the sides, and when the excellent Hurney rifled over a superb 56th minute effort (assisted by JJ Hutchinson), the home support once more found its voice.

From the next attack in what was by then a gripping contest, CJ McGourty struck over the score of the match from just inside the Waterford 45, to send the Antrim bench collectively off its feet. Nine minutes from time, Thomas O’Gorman was black carded for a high challenge, and a minute later, Pollock landed another free to edge the Glensmen three clear. Whyte found his range again with a 64th minute free but two minuets later sent a decent opportunity from a dead ball wide. A minute from the end of normal time, Antrim substitute Paddy McAleer scored another fine kick from a wide angle and some 30 metres from goal, and it looked as if the contest was done and dusted by then.

However, a compelling match was provided with the most dramatic of finales when substitute Liam Ó Lonáin was upended by Declan Lynch, who somehow was only yellow carded despite impeding the An Rinn man just yards from goal.

Up stepped Paul Whtye to take a penalty that would have levelled the match, only for the Deise number 15 to steer the ball wide of Kerr’s right hand upright, with the Antrim keeper diving in the opposite direction.

Time was not yet up, and Patrick Hurney found his range again to reduce the arrears to just two points. But moments later, Waterford ran out of time, and were left cursing their luck after a fine performance ultimately yielded no return.

“One of these days, when we do click, when everything does go right for us, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with and it isn’t that far away,” said a disappointed but proud Tom McGlinchey afterwards.

“We didn’t take our goal chances in either half and we have to start taking them, and it’s unfortunate that Paul missed that penalty at the end, but these things happen in matches, penalties get missed.

“Anyone outside the camp or who hasn’t seen the matches is probably saying ‘typical Waterford, they lost again’, but when you’re at the games, Longford last week, Carlow the week before, today too, we’ve lost those three games by two points, just a score. My message is to the lads is to stick at it, keep up the effort, keep up the application and our day will come.

“Our day will come and I am firmly convinced of that.”

Waterford: Stephen Enright; Dean Crowley, Niall Walsh, Maurice O’Gorman; Ray Ó Ceallaigh, Liam Lawlor, Thomas O’Gorman; Shane Briggs, Tommy Prendergast; JJ Hutchinson, Michael Curry, Patrick Hurney; Mark Ferncombe, Joey Veale, Paul Whyte.

Substitutes: Tadhg hUallacháin for Niall Walsh (HT), Liam Ó Lonáin for Mark Ferncombe and Conor Phelan for Joey Veale (both 58) and David Hallahan for Thomas O’Gorman (Black Card, 68).

Scorers: Paul Whyte (0-8; 0-4f, 0-2 45), Patrick Hurney (0-3), JJ Hutchinson and Shane Briggs (0-1 each).

Black Card: Thomas O’Gorman (68).

Antrim: Chris Kerr; Martin Kane, Sean McVeigh, Declan Lynch; James Laverty, Justin Crozier, Tony Scullion; Mick McCann, Benny Hasson; Conor Murray, Owen Gallagher, Paddy McBride; Ryan Murray, Michael Pollock, CJ McGourty.

Substitutes: Richard Johnston for Martin Kane (29 mins), John Carron for Owen Gallagher (46), Paddy McAleer for Sean McVeigh (54), Matt Fitzpatrick for Ryan Murray (58) and Niall O’Neill for Ryan Murray (68).

Scorers: CJ McGourty (0-9; 0-6f), Michael Pollock (0-4; 0-3f), Conor Murray and Paddy McAleer (0-1 each).

Black Card: Benny Hasson (72 – there was no time left for Antrim to get a replacement on the pitch)

Referee: Niall Ward (Westmeath)

Dermot Keyes at Walsh Park

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