Waterford League 0; Wexford League 1
Mick Wallace was celebrating his 4th Inter League Cup success in ten years in Ozier Park on Saturday evening last. His side, who were the holders of the trophy, did not have to reach any great heights in this final to keep it in the Model County because the Waterford team looked flat and without any real ideas as to how to break Wexford down.
The local outfit enjoyed plenty of possession during the course of the 90 minutes but they found it impossible to breach the visitors’ defence and more often than not they were forced into trying their luck from too far a distance.
The only people who will remember this game are the large number of supporters who travelled from Wexford and of course the winning team. Waterford people will want to forget about it as quickly as possible. It is a pity because on the way to the final they recorded excellent away victories in Inishowen and Donegal but sadly this contest proved to be just a bridge too far.
Waterford pressed Wexford back during the opening 30 minutes. Brian Nolan got in a cross from the right on 6 minutes which was met by Gary Keane but defender Mark Cowman deflected his shot away for a corner kick.
Leo Jacques then headed straight at the Wexford goalkeeper Pa Doyle and moments later Eddie Barrett went charging into the penalty area before he was stopped in his tracks by Shaun Murphy.
Gary Keane took a pass from David Kennedy on 11 minutes but again Pa Doyle had no difficulty saving. The goalkeeper then got down low to save from Gavin Falconer who had been played in by Colin O’Shea.
Pa Doyle did well to tip over a cracking shot from Gary Keane on 17 minutes. The Bohemians player took a pass from Leo Jacques but Doyle was alert and tipped over his crossbar.
David Kennedy had a decent chance after 19 minutes but from 10 yards he dragged his shot wide after taking the ball from Gary Keane.
Wexford began to work their way back into the game and Kevin Burns in the Waterford goal had to produce a stunning save on 34 minutes. He dived to his left to turn away a curling effort from Mark Cowman who had controlled a pass from Lee Aust.
Four minutes before half time Waterford were dealt a major blow when powerhouse midfielder Eddie Barrett had to be stretchered off with a very bad knee injury. The player who won Harty Cup and All-Ireland Colleges hurling medals with De La Salle this year was rushed to hospital and he was replaced by Kenny Purcell.
The second half open up much like the first with Waterford moving forward without really looking all that dangerous. David Kennedy warmed the hands of Pa Doyle with a shot from 20 yards on 54 minutes after the ball broke off defender Shaun Murphy following a flick on from Mitchel Casey.
Kevin Burns came to the rescue of Waterford for a second time just after the hour mark. Gareth Wallace played the ball forward to Danny Furlong and just when it appeared that the hot striker was about to score, Burns spread himself at the edge of his penalty area to deny Furlong.
The only goal of the game arrived in the 79th minute and a disaster of a goal it proved to be for Waterford. Gareth Wallace sent over a corner kick from the right to the back post. The ball appeared to hang in the air for an eternity before the Wexford captain Shane Dempsey headed it past Kevin Burns at the back post. It was a terrible goal to concede.
The home side just did have the power to drive forward for the equaliser and Wexford did not have any real problem holding on to their advantage. Six days previously, Carrick United won the FAI Junior Cup in glorious fashion but on this occasion local supporters were brought well and truly down to earth by this Waterford display.
Waterford League: Kevin Burns, Brian Nolan, Colin O’Shea, Mitchel Casey, Leo Jacques, Paul Carey, Aaron Butler, Eddie Barrett, David Kennedy, Gavin Falconer, Gary Keane. Sub: Kenny Purcell for Barrett (41 mins).
Wexford League: Pa Doyle, Shaun Murphy, Warren Broaders, Keith Kearney, Mark Cowman, Chris Kenny, Lee Aust, Shane Dempsey, Danny Furlong, Dwayne Somers, Conor Wallace. Subs: Gareth Wallace for Somers (36 mins), Darren Sinnott for Aust (57 mins), Shane Sinnott for Kearney (88 mins).
Referee: Nick Marnell (Kilkenny)