As the Waterford Crystal players danced with joy and sang “Champ-e-o-nees, Champ-e-o-nees” one of the teams joint managers, Niall Hogan reflected on what had been achieved during the course of the last nine months.
“We set our stall out at the end of last season to win the league this season. We won the FAI Junior Cup in 2006 but last season was a disappointing one from our point of view. We started off pretty well but the season fizzled away at the end so we decided to bring in a few new players to strengthen certain areas.
“We have not used all that many players this season. Having said that we did from time to time bring in youth players and a few players from the Division 3 side and I would like to thank those players and their managers for allowing us use them when the need arose.
“This league has been a real club effort, and that is what this club is all about. Two years ago the Under 16 team won the SFAI Cup and we won the FAI Junior Cup. Hopefully this year the youth team will win the Munster Cup. We will all be there supporting them on Sunday in the final.
“We did wobble a little in the two games before this one and that was not acceptable from our point of view. The players by their own admission admitted that fact and everyone of them were determined to do the business in style tonight and that is what they did.
“Stiker Joe Watson and Martin Tynan could play in any high grade league, and that is a fact. When you look at the defence the players ages mount to over 100 years. Niall Butler was the best player on the pitch in the 2006 FAI Junior Cup final and he was 36 years old. Paul Wyse has been really great for us also as has Derek Hearne and Pat Dobbyn who came back to us.
“We are like a big family here. Any of those players could have moved on and played for any other club but they have remained loyal to the club and I am delighted for them. We will give it our all in the Ardagh Cup now, but it is a pity that we have to play Ferrybank two days after winning the league title. There is nothing we can do about that so I suppose celebrations will be put on hold until we play that game”.
This seasons Premier League campaign has been a real roller coaster of a ride for clubs at the top and the bottom. Some people claim it has been a great league while other say the standard has not been good. “Huggy” Hogan has his own views on this subject: “I believe that this has been the best Premier League race for a long time because every club was more than capable of beating any other team. Take Southend United for example. They were in relegation trouble for a while yet in recent weeks they displayed championship form, including a victory over St Saviour’s.
“Ferrybank have beaten us and drawn with us and yet they could still be relegated. Carrick United are in the FAI Junior Cup final and they have been superb this season also, although the cup run has proved to be something of a hindrance for them as regards the league.
“No, this seasons league has been great. I have had a ball here since Davy Walsh and myself took over when Brendan (Rea) left before he came back but at the end of the day it is all down to the players. As I said we are a big happy family here and I am proud to be part of it all”, stated Niall as he began to start planning for the Ardagh Cup tie with Ferrybank.
*FOGRA: Waterford Crystal won that game with Ferrybank 2-1 on Friday night. First half goals from Robbie Butler (18 mins) and Diramuid Delehunty (40 mins) saw them lead at half-time. Kevin Roche (73 mins) pulled a goal back for Ferrybank but Crystal recorded a victory which keeps them on track for the domestic double.