Waterford United 2; Limerick FC 1
Waterford United returned to winning ways at the RSC on Saturday night last when they overcame a tricky Limerick side that, despite being outplayed for long periods, came dangerously close to grabbing a share of the spoils.
The Blues went in front through a Brian O’Callaghan own-goal after just eleven minutes and went further ahead on 62 minutes when Graham Cummins converted the rebound from his penalty attempt saved by Dave Ryan. But Limerick’s Shane Treacy scored from the penalty spot five minutes from the end and United had to defend fiercely in the dying minutes of the game.
Both teams went about their business with energy and drive but it was a long time before either side actually got a shot on target. However, United were the most industrious and created many more chances in front of goal than their opponents but a succession of last-gasp tackles denied them further scores. On another night, Willie John Kiely might well have bagged a hat-trick.
The Blues opened the scoring early on when a low ball across the face of the goal from Paul Walsh was turned into his own net by O’Callaghan. It was Walsh’s first competitive game for United and his first against his old club.
On 62 minutes Cummins was heading goalwards at speed when he was taken down by Martin Deady and a penalty was awarded. Cummins took the kick himself and, although Ryan managed to parry the ball, Cummins followed up to crash the rebound to the net.
Limerick’s goal also came from the penalty spot on 85 minutes. Kevin Murray was penalised for pulling back John Tierney and Treacy converted although Michael Devine dived the right way and almost got a touch.
Willie John Kiely should have put Waterford two up on 22 minutes when he was clear on goal but he scuffed his shot which was a big let-off for the visitors. Just on the half-hour, goalkeeper Ryan ventured outside his area to challenge for a long clearance booted out of the United defence. The ball broke for Kiely who had an opportunity to lob the ball over the keeper’s head as Ryan back-pedalled furiously into position but, unfortunately for the Blues, the angle was difficult and the striker’s effort drifted wide of the near upright.
Two minutes later, John Kearney crossed chest-high from the left and Cummins slipped free of his marker to get in a glancing header but it was narrowly wide of the far upright. Just on the half-time whistle, United mounted a good build-up from the back that ended with a neat one-two between Kiely and Dave Warren but Warren’s finish flew wide of the far upright.
The Blues moved up a gear in the second half to more or less dominate the proceedings. They created a succession of scoring opportunities but brave defending by the Shannonsiders denied them time and again.
Two minutes after the restart, Cummins broke through from the 18-yard line but he was forced wide into a difficult angle by two defenders and his shot was left of the near post. On 54 minutes, Kiely and Walsh made good progress down the right wing but, when an opening appeared and Kiely pulled the trigger, a defender stretched full length to deflect the ball out for a corner.
It wasn’t to be the West Waterford man’s night when Kiely went close again two minutes later and, then, on 76 minutes he was set up with a great ball from Cummins but the goalkeeper got lucky and saved with his legs.
Waterford United: Michael Devine, Seamus Long, Kenny Browne, Kevin Murray, Alan Carey, John Kearney, Kevin Waters, Dave Warren, Paul Walsh (Joe Mulcahy, 83 minutes), Willie John Kiely (David Grincell, 81 minutes), Graham Cummins. Substitutes not used: Stephen Grant, Paul McCarthy, Kevin Burns.
Limerick FC: Dave Ryan, Conor Molan, Martin Deady, Brian O’Callaghan, Niall Donnelly, Tomas Barrett (Robbie Kelleher, 39 minutes), David Ryan, Gavin Roche, John Tierney, Shane Treacy, Dean Finnan (Dave McGrath, 67 minutes). Substitutes not used: Michael Sheehan, Jack Allen, Andy Moloney.
Referee: Jim McKell, Tipperary