Waterford Crystal 2; Bohemians 1
Wednesday evening last was bitterly cold but there was a warm glow within the Waterford Crystal camp because they were crowned Waterford Premier League champions for the 5th time in their history.
Like the other ten clubs in the division they got their campaign underway back in August, 2007 but unlike the other nine clubs, Waterford Crystal were the ones celebrating last week.
The other clubs can now concentrate on the Ardagh Cup, apart from Johnville who have yet to play a vital game against Carrick United. A draw would be good enough for them to avoid relegation. However,
if they lose they will have top play-off against Ferrybank to see who retains Premier League status. Those facts were not in the minds of the Crystal players last week, because they had only one thing on their agenda on Wednesday last. Victory!
Going into the game they had a total of 31 points. Bohemians had a haul of 28 points and they knew what they had to do. Win and go level with the leaders. However ten minutes into the game the shell shocked Bohemians players were trailing 2-0 and they never fully recovered from their disastrous start.
Having lost their two previous home games the last thing Bohemians required was a start like this and from early on the writing was on the wall for the outfit from Ben Wadding Park. Waterford Crystal (or ‘The Glass’ as many people call them) quite simply came storming out of the traps and they rattled Bohs from the opening whistle.
This was the 5th time the club lifted the most sought after title in local football. They won their first crown under Peter Fitzgerald in season 1989-90. Alfie Hale and Johnny Matthews also guided the club to the Premier League crown before Paddy Allen led them to their last title in season 1996-97.
The men in charge this season were Niall “Huggy” Hogan and Davy “Squealer” Walsh. Those two men also were in charge when the team won the FAI Junior Cup in 2006. At the outset of the season very few pundits predicted that Waterford Crystal would win the league but their record is impressive to say the very least.
The victory over Bohemians was their 10th from 17 games played. They drew 4 and lost only 3. Along the way they scored 26 goals and conceded only 13 which is a remarkable fact. One of those victories was against Bohemians on August 22nd when they won three nil in Poleberry.
They are worthy champions indeed.
A strong breeze blew all through the game and it appeared to favour Crystal in the first half and Bohemians had no idea what had hit them during the opening 5 minutes. The home side forced 3 corner kicks and 3 free kicks during that period as the Bohs players were forced back, unable to get out of their own penalty area.
It came as no surprise when Crystal went in front after 6 minutes. Stephen Walsh fouled Martin Tynan out on the left flank. Jason Halloran took the free kick and the unmarked Joe Watson headed to the net from 6 yards range past the helpless goalkeeper Andrew Halligan.
Four minutes later Martin Tynan drilled the ball through a Bohemians defence that opened up like the Red Sea. Joe Watson raced on to the ball, went around Andrew Halligan and gleefully touched the ball into an empty Bohemians net from inside the penalty area. Two goals in ten minutes for Watson. What a start for the glittering Crystal striker, and what a dreadful opening for the visitors.
Bohemians did not get a shot on goal until the 27th minute when Stephen Walsh played the ball forward to Bobby Keoghan who shot on the run from 20 yards but the Crystal goalkeeper Derek Hearne saved easily. Two minutes later Jason Halloran took another free kick for the home side from the left after David Whittle had fouled Martin Tynan but his curling effort came back off the far upright.
On the stroke of half-time the Crystal right full back Jason Foran headed the ball forward from just outside the penalty area. Martin Tynan raced on to the ball before releasing Joe Watson but on this occasion Andrew Halligan produced a very good save.
Waterford Crystal continued to press forward in the second half. Keith Sheridan slipped the ball out right to Joe Watson on 57 minutes but after getting past Matthew Billingham the red hot striker shot straight at Andrew Halligan.
Bohemians were unlucky not to get back into the game after 68 minutes. Matthew Billingham knocked the ball down to Alan Quinlan who shot hard at goal from 25 yards but the ball came crashing back off Derek Hearne’s left upright. You got the impression at that stage that this was not going to be Bohemians night.
One minute later at the other end Joe Watson passed to Jason Halloran who picked out Martin Tynan from the right but Tynan’s header cam back off the Bohemians crossbar.
Andrew Halligan produced a wonderful save shortly afterwards by turning away a curling effort from Martin Tynan who had been fed by Robbie Butler. Bohemians scored a goal 5 minutes from full time. A long kick by goalkeeper Andrew Halligan was knocked on by John Boland who in turn picked out Leo Jacques who hammered the ball low past Derek Hearne from 10 yards.
Crystal held firm during the remainder of the game although they did lose Keith Sheridan deep into injury time as he was sent off following a dust-up between players from both sides. The game was well and truly over at that stage and seconds later the celebrations began for the players, mentors and supporters of Waterford Crystal. Nine months of graft had been rewarded.
Waterford Crystal: Derek Hearne, Jason Foran, Niall Butler, David McEvoy, Paul Wyse, Pat Dobbyn, Martin Tynan, Keith Sheridan, Jason Halloran, Joe Watson, Robbie Butler. Sub: Paul Quinlan for Halloran (78 mins); not used: Diarmuid Delehunty, Gavin Roche, Brendan Rea, Davy Wlash, Martin Strumble.
Bohemians: Andrew Halligan, Stephen Walsh, Andrew Denn, Liam Maher, David Whittle, Morgan Pender, Matthew Billingham, Kevin Whittle, Gary Keane, Bobby Keoghan, Gerry Connors. Subs: Alan Quinlan for Keoghan (40 mins), Leo Jacques for Kevin Whittle (52 mins), John Boland for Denn (65 mins).
Referee: Jimmy McGrath.