Waterford League 3; Kilkenny League 0
Johnny Browne, the Tramore FC coach who manages this Waterford team alongside his club colleague Stephen O’Shea summed up the feeling of everyone involved with local underage football with his comments following the SFAI Under 16 Development Cup final at the RSC on Sunday afternoon last.
“This is a wonderful day for soccer in Waterford and the surrounding area… despite the strong wind we played football the way it should be played. We are All-Ireland champions and that sure sounds good!”
How right he was. Days like this don’t come around too often and it was an honour to watch this outfit play some delightful stuff against a Kilkenny side who were bigger physically but a less skilful side.
Stephen O’Shea added: “We have become friends with all of the players during the past seven months. We have watched them grow not only as players but also as young men and we are very proud of them all. I hope they go on to enjoy wonderful careers in the game and make good lives for themselves whatever path they decide to take. They are a special group of young boys.”
Waterford had to play against the very strong wind in the first half but facing into the ‘city end’ they carved out the first chance after 4 minutes when Zach Shanahan drilled the ball forward to Christopher Flynn but he dragged his shot from inside the left side of the penalty area across the goal.
Kilkenny then enjoyed a lot of possession and one minute later Eddie Nugent cracked in an effort from the left which went narrowly wide of Robert Breslin’s near upright. On 11 minutes Nugent ran on to a long ball out of defence but he lobbed the ball over the crossbar from outside the penalty area.
Five minutes later the same player came over from his left-wing position to take a corner kick from the right. The breeze caught his flag kick and struck the top of the Waterford crossbar. Shortly afterwards Christopher Flynn of Waterford made the Kilkenny goalkeeper Mark Grace work with a stinging shot. The keeper spilled the ball but there was not a Waterford player close enough to finish.
Waterford put a nice move together on 26 minutes when Brian Nolan played the ball over the Kilkenny defence to Craig Wall who shot at goal first time only for full back Chris Fitzpatrick to get in a great block.
Ben Ryan, Chris Valentine and Micchael Doyle combined superbly on 36 minutes but the latter shot into the Waterford side netting. One minute later Donal O’Riordan played the ball forward to Chris Valentine and he struck the crossbar with a header.
Waterford broke the deadlock on 38 minutes. Craig Wall started the move out on the left and when he pulled the ball back to Zach Shanahan the Tramore hitman cracked the ball to the roof of the net in brilliant fashion.
With the wind behind their backs in the second half, Waterford took total control and they very nearly went further in front 3 minutes into the second period when Craig Wall picked out Zach Shanahan who let fly at goal but defender Ger Hayes headed the ball off the line.
The second goal arrived on 48 minutes. Christopher Flynn cut in from the right and when he lobbed the ball up in the air, Craig Wall was waiting to touch home from close range as the Kilkenny defenders and indeed their goalkeeper stood still – a complete mix-up by the visitors.
Kilkenny substitute Conor Gorey sent in a corner kick from the left on 55 minutes but central defender Donal O’Riordan headed over the crossbar.
Waterford swept back on the attack once again with Zach Shanahan cracking a shot on the run over the bar and then Shanahan passed to Craig Wall who fired in an effort from the right but Mark Grace produced a wonderful diving save.
Many more attacks followed and it came as no surprise when goal No3 came in injury time. Shane Nolan drilled the ball through the Kilkenny defence to Craig Wall and he gleefully cracked home his second goal of the game. Wonderful stuff from a really classy team.
Waterford League: Robert Breslin (Villa), Niall O’Sullivan (Hibs), Ian Galgey (Hibs), Craig Nugent (Villa), Paul Power (Villa), Brian Nolan (Bohs), Christophe Flynn (Tramore), Thomas Croke (Villa), Cormac O’Driscoll (Ferrybank), Zach Shanahan (Tramore), Craig Wall (Ferrybank). Subs. Shane Nolan (Bohs) for O’Driscoll, 69 mins; Robin Spencer (Villa) for Flynn, 76 mins; Augustine Adoyne (Hibs) for Shanahan, 80 mins. Rest of squad: Stephen O’Brien (Hibs) David Jacob (Tramore), Aaron Molloy (Villa), DJ Magee (Ferrybank), Stephen O’Brien (Tramore)
Kilkenny League: Mark Grace (Highview Utd), Chris Fitzpatrick (Thomastown), Andy Cantwell (Evergreen), Ger Hayes (Freebooters), Donal O’Riordan (Evergreen), Brian Donovan (Thomastown), Gary Corcoran (Thomastown), Michael Doyle (Bridge Utd), Chris Valentine (Freebooters), Ben Ryan (Freebooters), Eddie Nugent (Forth Rangers). Subs. Conor Gorey (Freebooters) for Fitzpatrick (49 mins); Jack Beegan (Freebooters) for Corcoran (56 mins), Sean O’Brien (Highview Utd) for Doyle (69 mins).
Referee: Jimmy McGrath.