Unqualified Success for Deise Lionhearts

All-Ireland Senior Football Qualifier Round 1

Waterford 3-14
Wexford 1-18

Mac Dara Mac Donncha at Innovate Wexford Park

If ever a manager and squad of players deserved a rub of good fortune, it was Tom McGlinchey and the Waterford Senior Footballers.
They had been badly struck by injuries and defections since the start of the year. They lost a few league matches by the smallest of margins and were unfortunate in the extreme not to have finished higher in the table than they eventually did. They battled manfully against Tipperary in the Munster Championship but lost out.
Innovate Wexford Park would be their final shot at redemption in 2018, therefore and they would have to put to one side the worst record in qualifiers in the entire country, having won just one of their previous 16 such ties. But his they did, and in exhilarating fashion last Saturday. Playing some sparkling football, which featured two magnificent goals, they were hanging on somewhat at the end, but they needn’t have been, as they were clearly superior to the home side over the 75 minutes.
Even though the Déise were rank outsiders beforehand, given that Wexford had plied their league trade in Division Three and that they were most unfortunate not to have defeated Laois in their Leinster Championship opener, there was an air of quiet confidence in the camp and among those who were ‘in the know’ as it were.
There was brilliant sunshine in Wexford throughout the afternoon and the small crowd, some 450 souls, were treated to an entertaining contest throughout, with 4-32 tallied not bad for an afternoon’s entertainment.

Shane Ryan slots home Waterford's opening goal during the All-Ireland Senior Football Qualifier at  Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday last. 			| Photos: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Shane Ryan slots home Waterford's opening goal during the All-Ireland Senior Football Qualifier at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday last. | Photos: Matt Browne/Sportsfile


Had there been a possession graph operating in the opening 35 minutes, Waterford would surely have had about 70 per cent of same.
Right from the throw-in, the visitors took the game to the home side and although it took them some time to get the appropriate speed and thrust into their attacks, once this element was introduced, they really began to flow. The opening 90 seconds saw Waterford lay siege to the Wexford half of the field but the moves were slow and ponderous and came to nothing ultimately. Kieran Power had a most impressive outing until being forced off with injury and he was fouled for the visitors’ opening score, a free from the accurate boot of Jason Curry.
Donal Shanley equalised for Wexford before Conor Murray, another Deiseman who had a fine game, burst in and kicked the first of his three quality points, to retake the lead in the ninth minute.
The home side then enjoyed their best spell for the next five minutes, a period where they kicked four unanswered points, from Ben Brosnan, John Tubritt, a Donal Shanley free and Eoghan Nolan. They were three points to the good and looking reasonably comfortable.
Waterford's JJ Hutchinson outpaces Wexford's Michael Furlong.

Waterford's JJ Hutchinson outpaces Wexford's Michael Furlong.


But there were to be rocked on their heels however by a superb move on the quarter hour. It was started by Tommy Prendergast, who had an inspirational outing at midfield, who kicked the ball into JJ Hutchinson, His pass to the inrushing Shane Ryan was sublime and the Nire man slipped it low, past the advancing Conor Swine. Donal Shanley regained the lead for Wexford with a superbly struck 48 metre free but that would be their final time to lead in this clash.Shane Ryan was almost in for a second goal in the 17th minute but his low shot screamed just wide of the upright. He hadn’t availed of Cormac Reilly’s advantage, so Jason Curry slotted the free over the bar and they were level for the fourth and final time. With every passing minute, Waterford were taking over and they had an excellent second quarter. Great work by Kieran Power and Tommy Prendergast set up JJ Hutchinson for a typically superb 19th minute point, restoring their lead, one they were not to relinquish thereafter. Kieran Power then chipped in with a minor, followed by Tommy Prendergast, after what seemed an inordinate number of steps! They were a goal to the good and full value for that lead. Brian Malone narrowed it to two before one of the finest goals of 2018 was delivered in the 25th minute.

Defenders Aidan Trihy and Brian Looby advanced and interplayed, before JJ got the ball some 20 metres out, crashing a missile high into the corner of the net!
The same man then was involved in a one-two with Tommy Prendergast, who was eventually hauled to the ground and Jason Curry exacted full punishment. The visitors were ahead by 2-7 to 0-7 and the small Waterford contingent in the stand were thrilled by the standard of attacking on view. Perhaps they relaxed slightly from then to the interval as Ben Brosnan, David Shanley (a free) and Brosnan again, pointed for Wexford, the last point coming as a result of a hastily taken free close to the Wexford goal line. We wondered as the sides trooped into their dressing rooms whether the three-point advantage would be enough as Waterford led by 2-7 to 0-10.Whatever was said in the home dressing room at half-time had an effect as there was far more urgency from the men in purple and gold on the resumption. We saw heroic defence in the opening minutes and just after another Wexford attack broke down, Kieran Power kicked a marvellous long-range point in the 37th minute to extend Waterford’s lead. But they received a blow then when industrious wing-forward Gavin Crotty received a Black Card, replaced by club mate Joe Allen.
John Tubritt kicked a 42nd minute point for the home side, after JJ Hutchinson seemed to have been fouled at the opposite end.
Then came the third Waterford goal and again, it was marked by a superb move and finish. Tommy Prendergast was central, slipping the ball to Joe Allen whose low left foot shot gave Conor Swaine no chance in the Wexford goal.

That's my boy! Waterford's Tommy Prendergast celebrates last Saturday's victory in Wexford with his son Tommy Jnr (15 months).

That's my boy! Waterford's Tommy Prendergast celebrates last Saturday's victory in Wexford with his son Tommy Jnr (15 months).


Conor Murray then followed up with a sublime pint and this was dreamland fare for Waterford, who were by then seven points clear (3-9 to 0-11).
Donal Shanley and John Tubritt both pointed to narrow it to five, each side of Conor Murray electing to shoot for goal when a simple point may have been the better option. Once again, Tommy Prendergast advanced and was fouled, and Jason Curry converted the free. A superb Donal Shanley kept Wexford in touch but after their early goal chances, they weren’t really threatening Stephen Enright. Great work by Shane Ryan created Conor Murray’s third point before the hard-working John Tubritt replied at the other end for the home side, who were bordering on desperation at this stage. Michael Curry then set up JJ for another brilliant point and when Tommy was fouled yet again, Jason Curry’s 62nd minute score left the visitors seven points ahead for the second time.
A dollop of good fortune came a minute later when Donal Shanley was adjudged to have been in the square, right after he had finished a rebound from Eoin Porter to the Déise net.
Encouraged by this, Waterford advanced and Jason Curry played a neat one-two with JJ before fisting the ball over the bar.
That 68th minute score proved the last one for Tom McGlinchey’s charges as Wexford piled on the pressure for the six minutes of injury time signalled on the sideline. Donal Shanley converted a free and their long-needed goal came at the start of injury-time, with centre back Naomhán Rossiter finishing to the net.

With the home support in full voice, Wexford attacked the Waterford goal in waves but sturdy defence, along with some last gasp tackles, meant that a brace of Donal Shanley points was all they could muster. Cormac Reilly’s final whistle was greeted by a huge cheer from the Waterford players and a Brian Cody-like dance from an overjoyed Tom McGlinchey.
As was aptly described by a former Waterford football great on the pitch afterwards, it was great to see the footballers to have their day in the sun.
Each and every one who played here gave his all and had their moments but if I had to pick out a few, they would be Tommy Prendergast, Kieran Power, JJ Hutchinson and Conor Murray. Heartiest congratulations to all concerned and roll on the visit of Monahan come Round Two!

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