Monaghan United 0; Waterford United 0
Waterford United failed to take advantage of Shelbourne’s shock home defeat by Limerick on Friday night last when they were held to a draw by Monaghan in Kingspan Century Homes Park.
However the result on the field was totally overshadowed by the events that took place after the game. Not for the first time this season, the players of Waterford United were not paid and, as a result, the manager of the team, Gareth Cronin, had to inform the players that they were free agents which meant they could go if desired.
It is a strange situation considering that the team can go top of the league table if they defeat Wexford next Friday and Dundalk and Shelbourne slip up.
With all the cash problems perhaps it was not surprising that Waterford turned in their worst performance of the season and were outplayed completely during the opening 45 minutes. Monaghan dominated completely. David Scully, out on the left, was causing all sorts of problems and he was getting the better of Stephen Quigley with ease.
On 18 minutes, Scully got a free header, following a cross from Ian Maher, but he headed straight at Pakie Holden. Two minutes later, Kevin Williamson fed Scully but on this occasion he shot wide.
The same two players combined four minutes later but Holden touched away Scully’s effort. The Blues goalkeeper was at his very best on 25 minutes, touching a shot from Aaron Mooney on to his post. Robbie Collins was the next Monaghan player to cause problems when he squared the ball to Scully who blazed over the bar from 8 yards range. Two minutes later, Collins skipped around Holden but he ran out of room and shot wide.
Gareth Cronin brought on David Grincell for Willie John Kiely for the second half and he then replaced Gary Dunphy with Luke Fitzpatrick after 57 minutes. Monaghan were in a confident frame of mind, however, and they changed to a 3-5-2 formation to try and score a goal, something they have found difficult all season. Their leading goalscorer Paul Whelan, a defender, broke through the Blues defence on 71 minutes but David Breen got in a super tackle to stop the danger.
Waterford did come on strong during the final 15 minutes and they could have snatched the game during that period. Breen fed Grincell but he was just wide with a shot on the run. A good three man move saw Grincell, Michael Foley and Vinny Sullivan combining on 80 minutes but the Monaghan goalkeeper, Brendan Kennedy, who had little to do throughout, came out quickly to smother Sullivan’s shot from just inside the penalty area. Fitzpatrick then shot wide of the far post following a pass from Grincell from the right side of the park.
The last chance of the game also fell to Waterford. Dave Warren took a free fee kick picking out Foley who crossed to the far post from the left to Breen but the Blues defender just failed to get his foot to the ball.
That chance brought the curtain down on the game but it was the after-match happenings that dominated discussions. It was a night best forgotten, both on and off the field.
Speaking on WLRfm on Saturday morning, Blues goalkeeper Packie Holden said the squad had to come out and inform the public what the situation was.
“I look at Buckley Park and see two wonderful stands empty all week and that is what is going to happen at the RSC if the public don’t start supporting the club. We signed contracts at the start of the season but, from time to time, those contracts are not being honoured. The management committee are doing their very best and we are not blaming them but we take time off from work to play some games so we are losing out all over the place. We don’t even get petrol money sometimes.
“It is now up to the public of Waterford to make up their minds. Do they want a team in the League of Ireland? If we lose players to other clubs because of this situation, we will slip down the table and end up with crowds of 40 or 50 people at home games”.
Gareth Cronin was equally downbeat about the latest crisis. “Right now the lads from Cork, Dublin and the other places outside Waterford will not train this week. They will be in Wexford for the game next Friday but that is not the ideal situation. We are so close to achieving something despite all the problems but it could all go up in smoke.
“The committee are doing their best but the money is just not there. Many clubs are struggling but we are being hit more than most. The coming days will tell a lot, but right now it would appear that the business community and the people of Waterford are not bothered one way or the other.”
It was indeed a very sad weekend for Waterford United.
Monaghan United: Brendan Kennedy, Paul Whelan, Kevin Williamson, Aaron Mooney, Wayne Byrne, Don Tierney, Brian Gartland, Stephen McCrossan, Robbie Collins, David Scully, Ian Maher. Subs: Eoin Lanigan for Collins (74 mins) Darren Meehan for McCrossan (88 mins).
Waterford United: Pakie Holden, Stephen Quigley, Robbie Clarke, David Breen, Kenny Browne, Dave Warren, Kevin Waters, Gary Dunphy, Vinny Sullivan, Willie John Kiely, Michael Foley. Subs: David Grincel for Kiely (h-t), Luke Fitzpatrick for Dunphy (57 mins).
Referee: Ian Stokes (Dublin)