With the Waterford midfield being outplayed it was quite clear to see that the Waterford United manager Gareth Cronin had to do something to stop the Dundalk attacks that were being created from the middle of the park.

During the first half the visitors were ruling the roost big time and it the same story when the opening minutes of the second period unfolded. Kevin Waters and Gary Dunphy were not getting any joy whatsoever and the Dundalk No 8 David Cassidy was causing all sorts of problems, and only some stout defending by Kenny Browne and David Breen and woeful finishing by the visiting strikers kept the game level.

Cronin began to ring the changes after 59 minutes by taking off Michael Foley and replacing him with Luke Fitzpatrick. Three minutes later he took off Willie John Kiely and stuck David Grincell up front. He then hauled off Gary Dunphy and brought on Stephen Quigley.

All three changes were made in a ten minute spell. Luke Fitzpatrick went out wide right and Stephen Quigley slotted into the middle. The new lineout appeared to have a more settled look about it and what proved to be the winning goal arrived five minutes into injury time, Fitzpatrick scoring his first ever goal for the Blues.

‘Lost our way’

Needless to say the Waterford manager was a happy man when he spoke after the full time whistle. “It was a great win for us, a huge result. We played reasonably OK during the opening 15 minutes but then we lost our way completely.

“Dundalk are a fine side and we knew we would have a difficult game on our hands and that is what happened. David Cassidy is a very talented player and he was getting in behind our players far to easily. I started with Kevin Waters and Gary Dunphy in the middle because they did very well in Limerick and Galway and I felt they deserved to start and with Dave Warren fit I had to find a place for him so I put him out on the right.

“David Grincell is a very lively player who is not afraid to run at defenders and he can also play off the shoulder of his defender and he proved that tonight. I thought he would have scored before he was taken out of the game by the Dundalk player (John Flanagan) who was sent off.

“I am delighted for Luke Fitzpatrick because it was his first goal for the club. It is funny in one way because he can’t really head a ball. I think it hit the side of his head but who cares at this stage. It was not a vintage display by any manner of means but a win is a win.

“Michael Foley gave me a good hour considering he was sick all week. We came on strong during the last 15 minutes and I was happy with my players considering it was our first game back after the break”.

Tough games ahead

Waterford next game is away to Kildare County this Friday and then it is a visit from the league leaders Shelbourne on Friday, July 4th. Gareth Cronin knows there is a lot at stake in those games.

“We will take nothing for granted against Kildare. They almost caught us at home in the last series of games [Waterford won 3-2 with a late goal] and they have improved greatly since that game. They held Sporting Fingal to a draw this weekend and that is proof that they are an improving team.

“Having said that we should have to much power for them if we play to form. It would be bitterly disappointing not to take all three points ahead of the really big one against Shelbourne at home the following week.

“We did get the rub of the green tonight, of that there is no doubt but it is about time we got a little bit of luck. Everyone knows the money problems the club has so hopefully this result tonight will be the start of something big for this club. Perhaps to often people are inclined to zoom in on the negative side of things but lets take Kenny Browne for example. We have a player here who will in time be a star player in the Premier League and perhaps an even bigger league.

“I looked around at the players in training during the week and there were eleven Waterford born players there and many of them are fine talents. Let’s start looking at the positives at the club for a change. There is a future for Waterford United, starting in Kildare next Friday,” concluded an up-beat Gareth Cronin. The man could be right you know.

Further boost

Waterford United’s promotion chances were boosted even further on Saturday night when the league leaders Shelbourne crashed 2-0 to Longford Town in Flancare Park.

During the course of his interview on Friday, Gareth Cronin said he hoped that Longford may draw with Shels but he got even better news when it came to pass that the Midlanders had taken all three points.

Shels are still on top with 33 points. Dundalk have 31 while the Blues have 30 points on the board. The top three are beginning to pull away from the rest.