Stephen Henderson said Sporting Fingal are “a Premier League side in all but name” before the Blues beat them 4-1 in Dublin last Friday night. That was just three days after they knocked a resurgent Shamrock Rovers out of the League Cup at the RSC, a performance that had the manager wondering what his team have to do to win the wider Waterford soccer public over.
Waterford people love their football, and not just the English/Celtic stuff. There are plenty of us involved in junior and schoolboy soccer, have been for years. So it’s not that we don’t appreciate our own. Nor is it simply a case of money being tight. Looking back at what’s happened to the local League of Ireland club over the past decade or more, maybe people just got sick to death of the negativity surrounding the whole set-up, as managers came and went, the promotions, demotions and mostly negative emotions.
Henderson has been a breath of fresh air. Positive as can be, he’s built a team based around young lads with an experienced head or two (firm Kilbarry favourite Michael Devine being an inspired signing), instilled them with confidence and ‘squad spirit’ and they’re playing a brand of flair football that’s better than anything that’s been seen at the RSC in several seasons.
Doing a thankless job for love and certainly not money, the current management committee have really stepped up to the plate too, in fairness, and must be delighted with the impact Henderson has made. Lots of lads have been playing through the pain barrier of late and one can only hope that injuries don’t take their toll as a long, hard campaign gets down to the business end of the season.
A few hundred more ‘12th men’ won’t do them any harm.