As the promotion hopes of Waterford United died at the RSC last Friday, team manager Gareth Cronin took time out to reflect on the season and look ahead to next year’s campaign. The first thing he did however was to give his views on another defeat by Shelbourne.
“We played some very good football in the first half against the breeze but we were pretty poor in the second half, playing with the breeze. All we did was hump the ball forward and hope for the best. The referee was very poor tonight. Not in a million years was that a penalty. Kenny Browne went in a little bit high but how the referee saw it as a penalty I just don’t know.
“These decisions have gone against us all season. Two weeks ago a linesman who was 50 yards away from the incident sent Willie John Kiely off and in the last game against Shelbourne in Tolka Park a penalty was given against us when it should have been a free out.
“Having said all that when you look at some of our young players like David Grincell having to play against experienced defenders like Alan Keely, Robbie Hedderman and Damien Brennan we were always going to find the going tough.”
When quizzed on the future of the squad and indeed the club, Gareth Cronin reflected on what has been an annus horribilis for many League of Ireland clubs on the finance front.
“Like almost every other club in the league, both Premier and First Division, we ran into money problems this year. All of the players at this club could have walked away but they decided to remain on and continue to give all they had and for that they deserve great credit.
“Off the field it has been a dreadful season. It has been really awful and as far as I know only five of the 22 clubs are in debt. We must cut our cloth to measure for next season and I think we will do that. When a club like Waterford can field players like David Grincell, Paul McCarthy, Gary Dunphy, Kenny Browne and all the other local lads then surely there is a future for a club like that.”
Cronin confirmed he wanted to remain on as manager. “The management committee have asked me to do that and that is what I intend to do. We will probably lose the Dublin-based players but with the locals on board and some new faces I believe we can be a big force next season.
“The experience that they have gained this season will be a great help and in a strange way we might be regarded as a top team and not an inexperienced side as we were at time this season.
“Every business in Ireland is suffering from the credit crunch, every business has problems and that is going to take its toll on League of Ireland clubs but it may bring an end to the crazy money that is being played to players.
“Some clubs are paying out over €3,000 to players and that cannot continue. The most I ever earned was four hundred a week when I was with Shamrock Rovers. Clubs will have to take a long hard look at themselves.
“I am a little tired right now especially since the dark nights came in and the travelling but I am very proud of my players and what they have done for me this season. I have told the truth all season when asked by the media for my comments on games.
It has been a rollercoaster nine months but after a short break following next week’s game in Monaghan I will sit down with the management committee and start planning for next year.”