Following the disappointment of their outing against Shelbourne the previous week, Waterford United returned to winning ways at the RSC on Friday night last when the same starting eleven proved much too strong for struggling visitors Monaghan United.
It was almost seven years since Waterford United last scored five goals in a match. On the previous occasion it was a 5-1 victory against Finn Harps in November 2001 and, on Friday last, the score-line could actually have been higher when a missed penalty and other goalmouth incidents are factored into the equation.
The promise of what was to come was flagged after only three minutes. Robbie Clarke passed the ball down the left wing to Michael Foley who sent over a perfect cross for Vinnie Sullivan but his cracking header came back off the crossbar.
Following sustained pressure, Waterford took the lead on 25 minutes when Dave Warren crossed from the left to David Breen who was waiting in front of goal and his downward header gave goalkeeper Brendan Kennedy no chance.
The Blues increased their lead two minutes later when the in-form Sullivan spotted Kennedy slightly off his line and executed a beautiful chip from 20 yards that soared over the defence before dipping gloriously into the top, far corner of the net.
Monaghan didn’t trouble the home defence that much during the ninety minutes although they might have pulled a goal back on the half hour but Phil Sheppard saw his powerful drive swerve wide of the upright at the last second.
That let-off had the effect of driving the Blues up a gear and the score-line would have been worse for Monaghan but for two super saves from Kennedy. On 36 minutes the goalkeeper dived full length to touch a Sullivan blockbuster out for a corner and, two minutes later, Kennedy pulled off another top drawer save to deny Joe Mulcahy. On 39 minutes, Mulcahy was in the thick of things again when he headed a Sullivan cross over the bar.
The home side’s third goal came just on the stroke of half-time. Sullivan unleashed a powerful drive from 20 yards but the ball took a cruel deflection off Wayne Byrne and the goalkeeper ended up going the wrong way.
Monaghan lost goalkeeper Kennedy through injury five minutes into the second half and, on 63 minutes, his replacement, Danny Woods, dropped a Foley corner from the right and Breen stabbed the loose ball into the net from three yards.
Waterford were awarded a penalty on 84 minutes when Woods took down Mulcahy. Both Sullivan and Breen were on course for a hat-trick but Sullivan was the one who place the ball on the 12-yard spot. Unfortunately, his effort was poor and Woods dived to his left to save.
But two minutes later Sullivan made amends and claimed his hat-trick when he cruised into the area and confidently lobbed the ball over Woods’ head into the far corner of the net.
Waterford United: Packie Holden, Stepehen Quigley, Robbie Clarke (Ciaran Fitzgerald, 67 minutes), David Breen, Kenny Brown, Dave Warren, Paul McCarthy, Joe Mulcahy, Vinnie Sullivan, Willie John Kiely (David Grincell, 63 minutes), Michael Foley (Kevin Waters, 73 minutes). Substitutes not used: Luke Fitzpatrick, Ben Spicer.
Monaghan United: Brendan Kennedy (Danny Woods, 50 minutes), Ian Maher, Paul Whelan, Aaron Mooney, Ian Malone, Dom Tierney, Robbie Collins (Darren Meenan, 67 minutes), Wayne Byrne (Stephen McCrossan, 60 minutes), Phillip Sheppard, Eoin Lannigan, James Hand. Substitutes not used: Darragh Hanaphy, Keiran Reilly.
Referee: Graham Kelly, Cork.
The bad, bad news
As the 410 fans that turned up for the game filed out through the gates full of talk and smiles about the entertaining action they had just enjoyed, most were unaware that a dark cloud hung ominously over the club. This reporter does not wish to be alarmist and, over the years, I have never puffed up any news or sports story. But my information is that, at present, the very existence of Waterford United is hanging by a very thin thread indeed. The situation has hardly ever been worse. Despite tireless fundraising work, not enough money is coming in, mainly because of horrendously low gate receipts, and the stressed members of the hard-working volunteer management committee are at their wits end trying to make ends meet. Unless there is a significant change of fortune, time is fast running out for Waterford United and National League soccer in Waterford and that is not, repeat NOT, an exaggeration.