Waterford League 5; Dublin AUL 0
This was as good a performance by any Waterford League team in any competition for many a long year. The home side were far superior in every department and the football they produced was at time out of this world.
The fancied Dubliners were just not at the races all through and in truth the winning margin could have been much greater. Having come out of a tough qualifying group and then winning away in Inishowen in the last stage, Anthony Brown’s men are now through to the semi final and surely it is not hoping too much that this superbly talented squad can go all the way. This was Waterford football at Under 18 level at its very best. Brilliant!
Waterford opened up brightly and after 8 minutes Brian Nolan crossed to Sam Shanahan who had his effort blocked by a defender and then Gavin Falconer had a shot saved by the Dublin goalkeeper Carl Donnelly.
Waterford went ahead after 10 minutes. Paul Carey whipped in a free kick from the left which was knocked into the path of Gary Keane by Thomas Moore and Keane hammered the ball to the roof of the net by Keane from 16 yards.
Three minutes later Paul Carey struck a superb ball forward from just inside his own half to Gavin Falconer who raced on, rounded the goalkeeper brilliantly, before touching the ball into an empty net.
Stewart Smith of the AUL sent over a corner kick from the right after 25 minutes but Anthony Reid headed wide. Two minutes later at the other end Eddie Barrett found Aaron Butler but his shot was saved by Carl Connolly and one minute later Donnelly saved a point blank effort from Gary Keane who should have scored following great work by Gavin Faulkner.
Sam Shanahan sent over a cross from the right on 32 minutes which was met at the far post by Gary Keane but he headed wide. Josh Byrne, the 15-year-old Waterford goalkeeper, then caught the ball with real class under his crossbar following a corner kick taken by Keith Ward.
The second half followed the same pattern of the first with Waterford launching attack after attack and after 40 seconds Gary Keane went close with a rasping angled strike from the left.
The Dublin AUL almost scored 10 minutes later when a free kick taken by Mark Cahalin was met by James Kane but his header struck Byrne’s right upright before Brian Nolan cleared the danger.
Normal service was resumed when Gavin Falconer brought a fine save from Carl Connolly on 67 minutes after Thomas Moore had done all the hard work. The resultant corner kick taken by Paul Carey was met by Mitchel Casey but his header came thundering back off the AUL crossbar.
Waterford were awarded a penalty 15 minutes from full-time when Mark Cahalin handled a Paul Carey corner kick from the left. Carey, the Southend United player took the spot kick himself and he gave Carl Donnolly no chance with a fiercely taken shot.
Gavin Faulkner put the icing on the cake on 86 minutes, finishing off a pass from David Kennedy and then the cherry was added by Eddie Barrett who knocked home a ball from Paul Carey who had run 40 yards down the right flank. A terrific display by a superb Waterford team.
Waterford League: Josh Byrne, Brian Nolan, Colin O’Shea, Thomas Moore, Mitchel Casey, Paul Carey, Aaron Butler, Eddie Barrett, Gary Keane, Gavin Falconer, Sam Shanahan. Sub: David Kennedy for Shanahan (68 mins). Not used: Clive Prendergast, Thomas Moore and Shane Nolan.
Dublin AUL: Carl Donnolly, Stephen Carroll, Mark Cahalin, James Kane, Stewart Smith, Darren Kavanagh, Gerald Jordan, Keith Ward, Anthony Reid, Edward Moore, Carl Batrmen. Subs: Stephen Doyle for Batrmen (65 mins), Noel Downey for Moore (74 mins), Thomas Meehan for Ward (74 mins)
Referee: Frank O’Neill (Limerick).