Waterford United may have gone to the top of the Eircom League First Division league table on Friday night last (jointly with Dundalk) but Blues boss Gareth Cronin was not exactly full of the joys of spring after the game.
He was extremely critical of the playing surface at the RSC and he claimed that the pitch was not helping his side play the brand of football he claims they are capable off. “The pitch is just not acceptable and it is bordering on dangerous. I know it is a council pitch but offers from volunteers from the club to help improve it have not been taken up, which is a pity.
“It really is bad. I walked the pitch at 6pm and it was like a beach. The state of the pitch in limiting us big time. Michael Foley, for example, is a fine footballer but there is very little he can do by the time the ball gets to him. It is a like a junior football field and I don’t mean any disrespect to junior clubs because I know many of them have got excellent pitches”.
The United manager also made a point about the pitch on which Waterford United will play this Thursday in Oriel Park. “I don’t want to be crying wolf before we play what is already a very big game but I feel that Dundalk do have an unfair advantage with their all-weather pitch.
“They will claim that they are under a disadvantage because they have to play on grass ever other week but look at things this way. The idea of summer soccer as they call it was to have good level playing surfaces with good grass, but nothing has really changed on that front since the new seasons came in”.
Cronin was loud in his praise of the striker from Abbeyside, the former Aberdeen player Willie John Kiely, who has scored three goals during the past two games. “Willie John is perhaps the most natural striker we have at the club. Vinny Sullivan is a good striker also but what the First Division does is that it gives players like Willie John and Kieran Fitzgerald the chance to play and learn at the same time.
“Both of them are getting stronger with every game. In this division you can kick on when you have taken the lead, unlike the Premier Division when you have to shut up shop when in front”.
Gareth Cronin was upset to lose two players during the course of the game. “Paul McCarthy got a very bad head injury and he had to get at least ten stitches and he is suffering from concussion. He will be a big loss to us in Dundalk.
“I was disappointed with the reaction of Karl Bermingham. There is no doubt that he was fouled in the box and a penalty should have been given, but he should not have reacted in the manner he did.
“The Dundalk game is a big one but it would be foolish to call it a title decider at this stage. I have a lot of respect for their manager John Gill but we will go there determined to keep out unbeaten run going”.
The Waterford manager paid tribute to his defence which has only conceded three goals this season, and two of those were penalties. “The back four is very solid. Kenny Browne and David Breen are doing very well. Robbie Clarke could be playing with Shamrock Rovers but he could not train the in the manner in which they do as they are more or less a full time outfit. Pakie Holden proved what a fine goalkeeper he is with his save from Darren Harrington. We are doing well and we will go to Dundalk in good heart”.