“Ah the joys of summer soccer,” said a fellow sideline hugger on Friday night last. The ‘joys’ indeed.
The first south east derby of the season was played in the sort of conditions that got Noah busy with some two by four to save animals in their two by twos.
Having walked towards the stand in anticipation of taking a seat to avoid the sheeting rain, it was soon evident that such a decision was a non-runner, even with the oilskins on.
The billowing wind had the flags on the stand side of the ground clinging to their hooks as souls braver than I stuck it out in the stand, despite being soaked within minutes.
This was a truly atrocious night to watch ‘the beautiful game’, which, due to the Old Testament conditions, knocked any romantic notions of association football rapidly on its head.
The chances of Waterford United and Wexford Youths producing a game to remember were null and void from the off, as players did their best to avoid ‘Dancing on Ice’ comparisons on so skid-prone a night.
On the sort of evening that a clued-in fan would have surely packed something medicinal for the inside pocket, the palms were rarely deployed for applause.
Just 32 seconds in, the Blues fans that ventured eastward had something to clap about as Willie John Kiely slid the ball beyond ex-United keeper Packie Holden to score what ultimately proved the winning goal.
Kiely, deployed as a lone striker by manager Stephen Henderson, put in one hell of a shift, clocking up significant mileage over the 90 minutes.
His shoulder was never off the wheel and his late strike which flew off the crossbar deserved better such was the effort he extolled all game long.
The lone striker’s role is arguably the toughest in football but credit to Kiely for making such a good fist of it throughout.
His performance is the sort United will regularly need to produce from their relatively small squad if they’re to produce a genuine promotion challenge this season.
Waterford enjoyed the greater possession and in Kevin Waters, John Kearney and Gary Dunphy (particularly in the first half), produced several excellent passages of link play.
All that was missing was a decisive end product which ought to have made this a more comfortable win for the visitors.
But, as has been the Waterford United way of things in recent seasons, the result was in doubt until the final whistle, despite Wexford barely threatening Blues goalkeeper Michael Devine.
And had a Youths player simply run into Marty Kelly’s superbly delivered free-kick in the 92nd minute, Mick Wallace’s side could well have claimed a point that their overall display didn’t merit.
With Sporting Fingal going down to UCD last Friday, it’s difficult to avoid the thought that an opportunity was lost on the opening weekend at the RSC given subsequent results.
But looking forward is all that Henderson’s men will be focusing on at training this week.
Shelbourne visit Kilbarry next Friday night (kick-off: 7.45pm) with the former domestic kingpins having won both of their opening fixtures.
And while it’s too early to talk about ‘must win’ games, three points this Friday would lay down a significant marker for the First Division campaign. A dry night would also be a bonus!