I never pretend to have an inside track into what is going on in Waterford hurling. The limit of my contribution to the grassroots of the game is buying a couple of tickets every fortnight for the club lotto, and even then it’s the nice man who comes to my door who does all the hard work. Incidentally, he’s a member of a genuinely famous Tramore soccer family. His heavy involvement in the GAA strikes me as being akin to apostasy and I’m dying to ask him what his story is. But I digress . . .
Knowing nothing about what goes on behind the scenes doesn’t make me incapable of interpreting what is out there in the open, but I’m questioning my ability to even do that now though after Derek McGrath made no fewer than six ‘last-minute’ (as if they were decided upon just before throw-in) changes to the team that had been published to play Galway. I had thought after the swift announcement of the team that he was eschewing the daft (in my opinion) habit of releasing what was effectively a dummy in the mistaken (in my opinion) belief that this might throw the opposition off the scent. I understand there were a few post-Fitzgibbon injury concerns, but six enforced changes seems improbable.
The upshot of the weekend just past is that, far from being a straight-as-an-arrow type that I thought he might be, Derek McGrath is just as sneaky as the rest of them. In addition, maybe these mind games are not as ineffective as I thought as Waterford swept to a wonderfully impressive win over a team who had gone nap in the previous round. It’s sobering to find out you know even less than the little you thought you knew. Thank goodness for the wonderfully impressive win to ease the pain, eh?
(originally posted on boards.ie)
Derek McGrath made six changes from the team he announced last week, with Iggy O’Regan coming in for Stephen O’Keeffe in goals, Tadhg Bourke for Barry Coughlan at corner back, Ray Barry for Jamie Barron on the right wing, Stephen Molumphy for Jake Dillon on the left, Ryan Donnelly for Maurice Shanahan at corner forward and Seamus Prendergast for Shane Walsh at the edge of the square.
On today’s performance, you would wonder if that forward line started last week would be now top of the league. However, the big difference was that Pauric Mahony’s radar from open play was in much better working order, as he finished up with five points from play as well as six pointed frees. In the process he gave Iarla Tannion a torrid time and was my man of the match.
Overall, this was a great team performance, with the players hunting in packs and working hard for each other. Playing against the wind in the first half, they worked their way out of defence very well with some good hand and stick passing and support play. However, at times they overdid the short passing and in the second half in particular, with the wind behind them, they might have used route one more often as Seamus Prendergast clearly had the Galway full back in trouble.
In the first half, despite having the wind at their backs, Galway were unable to take control of the game as Waterford defended really well and played some excellent ball into the forwards which on another day might have produced a couple of goals. Galway did have eight wides (to Waterford’s four) but, unlike last week when they were scoring for fun, today they were nearly always shooting under pressure. As it happened, Waterford had their own share of wides (five) in the second half and both sides ended up with nine wides apiece.
The key features of the first half, apart from Pauric Mahony’s roasting of Iarla Tannion, were Jamie Nagle’s marvellously skillful performance at right half back, a couple of great layoffs by Ryan Donnelly to create scoring chances for Mahony, and some great catches by Seamus Prendergast. The one time he got clean away he was taken down cynically just outside the large square. Overall, the exchanges were even enough, with Waterford going in at half time one point ahead, 0-9 to 0-8.
It took Waterford a while to impose themselves on the game in the second half but they gradually opened up a three-point lead which was cancelled out by Galway’s goal. Iggy O’Regan must take a lot of the fault as his attempt at a directed puckout went astray but even then Tadhg Bourke unluckily slipped as he went to cut out the through ball leaving Jason Flynn in the clear to fire home from close range.
However, this only served to spur Waterford to renewed efforts and, with Kevin Moran storming into the game at midfield and Ray Barry doing the needful on the scoreboard, Waterford controlled the game from there on in to finish comfortably ahead, despite missing some late chances. Waterford also appeared to lose their shape for a while as McGrath sent in several substitutes, including Eddie Barrett for Shane O’Sullivan, Jamie Barron for Brian O’Sullivan, Jake Dillon for Stephen Molumphy, Stephen Roche for Seamus Prendergast and Gavin O’Brien for Ray Barry. It has to be said that all the substitutes settled in right away and none of them looked out of place.
The Waterford defence was again massive today. Tadhg Bourke deserves great credit for an excellent performance in his first senior start for the county. He played with great poise and maturity, allied to a good brain and super skills, and didn’t allow the slip-up for Galway’s goal upset him. Of course, it was a big help that the other full backs, Shane Fives and Noel Connors, were both in top form, with the latter giving a master class of corner back play in the second half.
Apart from Jamie Nagle, Brick Walsh owned the centre back position and destroyed his opposite number (who was substituted) while on the other wing Philip Mahony also did the business. Shane O’Sullivan worked hard all through at midfield, while Kevin Moran really led the charge when Waterford took over in the final quarter.
Ray Barry had a quiet enough first half but really impacted on the game after the change of ends to finish with four points while Stephen Molumphy, as ever, was extremely effective on the other wing. Ryan Donnelly really impressed here, once he got up to the pace of the game in what was also his first start. He has great pace and body strength, and the ability to look around for players in better positions. Seamus Prendergast also had a really good game, but Brian O’Sullivan again had little impact.
When one thinks of the following list of players who didn’t play today, with most of them hopefully becoming available as the year progresses, one can see that these really are potentially exciting times for Waterford hurling.
Stephen O’Keeffe, Barry Coughlan, Liam Lawlor, Paudie Prendergast, Stephen Daniels, Darragh Fives, Richie Foley, Maurice Shanahan, Shane Walsh, Brian O’Halloran, Donie Breathnach and perhaps Stephen Bennett, Austin Gleeson and (hopefully) DJ Foran.
Waterford scorers: Pauric Mahony (0-11, 0-6 frees), Ray Barry (0-4), Seamus Prendergast (0-2), Kevin Moran, Stephen Molumphy, Ryan Donnelly, Stephen Roche and Jake Dillon (0-1 each)
Galway scorers: Conor Cooney (0-6, two frees), Cathal Mannion (0-3), Jason Flynn (1-0), Padraigh Brehony (0-2), David Burke and Niall Healy (0-1 each).
If you meet an asshole in the morning, you met an asshole. If you meet assholes all day, you’re the asshole.
Raylan Givens, Justified
Pat Bennett is a hero of mine, assuming that the Pat Bennett coaching Ballysaggart is the Pat Bennett of Ballysaggart who struck a late goal in the 1987 National League quarter-final against Cork in Walsh Park to level matters and set the stage for Anthony Cooney’s point that secured a stunning victory that had me lepping around the Town End
grass bank terrace like a mad thing. A hiding at Galway’s hands in the semi-final and a heartbreaking loss to Limerick in the Championship, where Pat’s first-half goal raised hopes of a shock win, did nothing to diminish the delight of the first time I saw Waterford win a knockout match against one of the game’s heavyweights. The first time is always a little bit special.
Hold that thought and contemplate something far less pleasant – the archetypal Tipperary jackass. We’ve all met several, even in real life, and while they are far more virulent on the internet (I firmly believe it was their antics that undid UpTheDeise.com) the ones in the flesh are worse because you can’t dismiss them as trolls. They fancy themselves as having struck every ball in every All-Ireland victory for the Premier County – did you know they’re the only county to have won an All-Ireland in every decade, a boast that gets aired at least every five minutes and is good until 2029? – and openly sneer at the shambolic efforts of a county like Waterford. You tell yourself that this character isn’t typical of Tipperary people in general, but you can’t help yourself. You burn with righteous indignation and rejoice every time they fall on their arses. Boy, does it feel good when that happens.
Which brings us back to Pat Bennett. His embittered rant after Ballysaggart’s loss to Creggan could be dismissed as being emotional after missing out on a once-in-lifetime opportunity that you have spent the best part of a working towards, but the comment about the referee John Keenan was bang out of order:
I don’t be critical of referees, I never do, but when you’re putting in a Wicklow referee that doesn’t know what hurling is about then that is what you get.
It must have been 25 years ago that my brother was on the Waterford team that won the Sonny Walsh Cup, the B equivalent of the Tony Forristal, by beating Wicklow in the final. Apart from the obvious feelings of delight at a Waterford win and pride in my brother’s part in that win, I remember admiring the Wicklow lads who had come all the way to Waterford to take on teams from the big guns and hoping that while they wouldn’t be good enough to beat Waterford that they’d be good enough to be a force in the future. Here we are in the future, and it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that John Keenan was on that Wicklow team. It may not be right to label Pat Bennett an asshole or think less of everyone associated with Waterford hurling because of his comments but you couldn’t blame someone from Wicklow who did, especially given there is form for this kind of outburst in the person of Paddy Joe Ryan who was more temperate, but equally ill-judged, when criticising Pat Aherne (wasn’t very well-judged myself) after the drawn 2003 Munster semi-final against Limerick. If someone slagged off Waterford in these terms from the county of, apropos of nothing, Tipperary, we’d be mightily irked, and rightly so. Let’s hope the good folk of Wicklow are more understanding of the anger of a coach and father than we have reason to expect.
Just to put the tin hat on it, the injudicious nature of Bennett’s outburst mean that it’s going to be very hard for Ballysaggart to avoid the accusation of sour grapes over their objection to a couple of Creggan’s team – there’s even a thread effectively accusing them of it on the GAA Discussion Board – even though they have a very strong case. The relevant rule is:
Age Grades – R6.16 T.O
To be eligible for the Grades listed hereunder, a player shall meet the respective stated age criteria:
Adult: Be over 16 years.
Under-21: Be Under 21 years and Over 16 years.
Minor (Under 18): Be Under 18 years and Over 14 years.
Under 16: Be Under 16 years and Over 12 years.
Under 14: Be Under 14 years and Over 10 years.
Under 12: Be Under 12 years and Over 9 years.
To be “Under” an age shall mean that the player shall celebrate the Upper Limit birthday (e.g. 21st. for Under21 Grade) on or after the 1st. January of the Championship Year
To be “Over” an age shall mean that the player shall have celebrated the Lower Limit birthday (e.g. 16th. To participate in Senior/Under 21 Grades) prior to the 1st. January of the Championship Year. Girls may participate only up to and including the Under 12 Grade.
It’s is a little ambiguous, what with Senior and Adult being used interchangeably, but the spirit of it is crystal clear – if you are too young/old for the competition on 1st January of the year of the competition, you are not eligible to enter. If you are to assume that a new year means new eligibility rules apply, this would mean that any Minor/Under-21 players who was competing in such a competition during the final year of his/her eligibility would no longer be able to compete should the competition, for whatever reason, spill over into another calendar year. As for assuming that the All-Ireland series is a new competition, there were suggestions that Waterford would try that tack to render John Mullane eligible for the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny after he was sent off in the 2004 Munster final. We were told in no uncertain terms by the chattering classes that this would be a bad idea, and yet it is Ballysaggart who are getting stick for daring to question it when one of their opponents drives a coach and four through the spirit of the rules.
Alas, the difference is down to Pat Bennett. No club likes to win titles off the field, but it’s equally true that no club likes to lose to a club playing to a different set of rules. It’s important to establish the narrative so that should Ballysaggart ‘win’ in such a manner that it’s clear to all and sundry that they haven’t gotten the result overturned because they objected to a 16-year-old playing, but because Creggan at best played hard and fast with the rules and at worst were cheating. The chance to establish this narrative looks to have been lost – you only have to look at the GAA board thread to see that.
In the long run, I think it’s best if Ballysaggart lose their appeal. That’s not to say that Ballysaggart are wrong to pursue it. I dread to think of how many man/teenager hours have gone into their tilt at All-Ireland glory, and the chances of them ever getting another shot at it again in the near future are slim. They’d have slip back from Intermediate level in the county for starters, and I wouldn’t have thought they’d be planning to do that. The prize is so great that I can understand them not caring about the optics. Looking at the bigger picture though, we don’t want to acquire a collective reputation as a shower of whingers and it’s going to be impossible for that to be avoided after Pat Bennett’s incendiary whinge.
The media watcher in me has always enjoyed the frequent dummy-spitting that takes place in the media over the increasing tendency of GAA managers to wait as long as possible to name their team for upcoming games. Every so often you’ll read a variation on the theme about how managers were treating their public with contempt and negatively contrasting their behaviour with the open and sunny nature of their rugby counterparts. Not once would such an article be troubled by any introspection on how the public enjoy seeing the media treated with contempt or how the rugger buggers are happy to plámás the media in their goal to sell every more cans of Heineken. These articles reek of self-pity and are all the more entertaining because of this.
For all of that, it is annoying how managers play their cards so close to their chest. The match day programme feels like an exercise in guesswork and you regularly have to take an axe to the published lineup before throw-in. It gets all the more frustrating when you consider how pointless it all feels. Do managers really think that waiting until the last minute to announce a team makes a jot of difference to the outcome? Like the policy of team rotation used in English soccer it is used by managers as a symbol that they are a serious outfit rather than the cause. Southampton, positioned in a place where they are unlikely to get to Europe via the league and even less likely to get relegated, chopped and changed their team at the weekend and were duly sunk by a team ten places below them in the table. It’s as if Mauricio Pochettino believed that if he didn’t rotate his squad then no one would see the Saints as playaz. So it was nice to see Derek McGrath eschew such nonsense by naming his team for the Tipperary game well in advance. No mind games, no acting the maggot. Just get the team on the pitch and let them do the talking there.
For all of that, the speed with which Waterford announced that there would be no change in personnel for the upcoming game against Galway is slightly unnerving. We’re meant to be living in an era of number-crunching and exhaustive study of match videos to determine player performance, yet there’s no way that could have happened here. It becomes particularly odd when you consider that they must have known that Maurice Shanahan would be a doubt, yet they still went ahead and announced the team anyway. The management team seems to have decided before playing Tipperary that they would give this team two games whatever happened. That’s a strategy that is going to muddy the waters whatever happens against Galway. Win, and how can you change a winning formula for the Dublin game. Lose, and you’ve taken two games to decide that the current plan isn’t working. Having confidence in your plan is all very well, but no plan of battle survives contact with the enemy, and that seems to have happened for the forwards against Tipp.
The injury to Shanahan makes this all moot (read: most of this was written before news of his injury was revealed). Things will have to change for Galway and we’ll be able to decide whether things were better or worse for those changes. It’s unlikely the attitude will have changed though. Let’s hope they’ve hit on the right formula, because if they haven’t it’ll all be over before anyone can do anything about it.
Twice in the space of a week Waterford teams let big leads established early in the second half slip. Last weekend Ballysaggart were ten points up against Kickham Creggans – or is it Creggan Kickhams? It seems to be the former but the latter is used by what should be reliable sources, sometimes in the same report - and yesterday the county team let a five point lead slip against Tipperary.
There’s a big difference between ten points and five points, although when you consider it was a ten-point swing for Ballysaggart, who ended up level at full-time, and an eight-point one for Waterford, who lost by three, it’s not that big. The manner of the swings was different as well. Without wanting to dismiss the achievements of Ballysaggart, and they’ve done themselves and the county proud, it seems hard to claim that they were anything other than second best to their Antrim opponents. The ten point lead probably flattered them a little, padded out as it was with three goals, and the way CK/KC horsed them out of it for much of the 110 minutes that followed means they don’t need to feel they left it behind them. I don’t think the same can be said for Waterford, who hit eight wides in the first half and were finally undone by a horror show goal as a free out from Tipperary goalkeeper Darren Gleeson sailed all the way to the net. It’s hardly the end of the world for the new management team – only twice in thirteen previous League visits have Waterford left Thurles with maximum points – but an opportunity to make a bold statement has been missed.
What both ties have in common is the nagging feeling that Waterford teams don’t have what it takes to make those kind of leads count. The smirking that accompanied Waterford’s late implosion in the Munster Minor final was hard to take, and that was just from people within the county exasperated at what they saw as showboating on the part of a team that was getting arrogant about their own ability. Close it out with the minimum of fuss? Not the Waterford way.
I’m reading too much into this, but the rub is that I’m reading anything into it all. Last year it was Tipperary who let as big a lead slip much later in the game against us, yet you can be sure they haven’t given it a second thought since. If nothing else Derek McGrath would be a success if we could stop having these thoughts. The reduced angst would make it all worthwhile.
The All-Ireland club championships are a joy to behold. I heard yesterday that Ballysaggart have 45 paid-up members. For them to find themselves in the field of dreams that is Croke Park is the stuff of, well, dreams, and while it almost had a nightmarish end as they had to conjure up a late goal to avoid being left with thoughts of what might have been having let a nine-point half-time lead slip, they did themselves and the county proud with a tale of Hans Christian Anderson proportions. And it might have a happy ending yet…
Not for me though. I’m not from Ballysaggart. I’ve never been to Ballysaggart. I’ve could kinda give you directions – there’s a sign post on the road from Lismore to Ballyduff, just as you pass the golf club – but that’s the limit of my acquaintance with the place. Despite this, I was a nervous wreck following the game on Twitter and WLR. Quite apart from the pleasure to be had in seeing a Waterford team, any Waterford team, winning an All-Ireland title, I had followed their progress ever since they had tidily dispatched Tramore in the county final and want to see it through to the end.
That’s the explanation for why I was so concerned for Ballysaggart’s fate. It doesn’t make it any less deranged though. Economists like to assume that consumers make rational choices, i.e. they’ll choose the option that gives them the most satisfaction at the least expense. Following a sports team from home costs you nothing but it can still exact a ridiculous mental toll. In all the years I’ve followed Waterford, there have been only two occasions where the final game of the season ended in glory – the Under-21′s in 1992 and the Minors last year. Every other time you’d end up deflated as they came up short, no matter how well things had gone up until then. That’s the fate of almost every supporter as only a handful of teams can end the season on such a high, which makes following a team completely irrational. If it were a narcotic, government would be expected to regulate it to the point of quasi-illegality.
At least following GAA teams involves relatively concentrated highs and lows. The feeling is nothing compared to the sustained misery that is following a soccer team. Take the case of my addiction to Liverpool. Twelve days ago we – let’s just accept the collective pronoun applies in my case and leave questions of whether an Irishman can ever truly say ‘we’ when it comes to an English team to another day – experienced a spectacular high as the Reds walloped Everton in the Merseyside derby – I prefer the more accurate term ‘Liverpool derby’ but it’s an argument best left to another day. The high lasted all of five days as Liverpool stumbled badly against West Brom. Wind on six more days to yesterday and this time Liverpool were puttin’ on the Ritz against Arsenal, four goals to the good after just twenty minutes. It was great, but already the euphoria is tempered by the knowledge that there is another away games against another team in the relegation zone coming up against Fulham on Wednesday night. Should Liverpool screw up there, it’ll feel as if the mauling of Arsenal had never happened. It’s just not right to be leaving your sense of happiness open to something as capricious.
In case anyone insists on questioning the whole ‘we’ business, it’s very easy to transfer the feeling across to Waterford United. Just over three years ago, as I started out following the Blues in earnest, they pulled off a spectacular come-from-behind win over Shelbourne to secure a home tie in the playoffs. People who were there spoke of an atmosphere in the away end that would put the Kop or a terrace at a Munster final to shame. That’s lovely, except three nights later the Blues were beaten by Monaghan United. It was shattering, and the sense of ‘we’ being for real can only make it feel worse.
I genuinely think I would be happier if I could be rid of this turbulent way of life, and while I’m too long in the tooth to change tack I wonder whether to inflict such neuroses on my son. In the midst of the ecstasy and the agony yesterday lay the Irish rugby team. I think I’ve gotten the balance right with them. I was delighted to see Chris Henry and co barrel over the line aganst the Taffs, but when they came agonisingly short against New Zealand recently, the sense of dismay faded with the hour. And the thought that the most balanced relationship is with the ruggers buggers is the most depressing one of the lot.
(Originally posted on boards.ie)
To put it bluntly, Ballysaggart were poxed to come away with a draw from a game in which, for the most part, they played second fiddle to bigger, stronger, more committed and more focused opponents whose combined play and ball control were also far superior. That they managed to survive can be attributed to a couple of gift goals, poor Creggan shooting, some good freetaking by Stephen Bennett and, it has to be said, some gritty defending by the Ballysaggart defence at a time in the second half when Creggan looked like completely taking over the game.
Up to now, Ballysaggart have generally been able to force the agenda in the games they have played in this championship. Today, they were on the back foot from an early stage and did not respond well, sending a lot of Hail Mary balls up to their forwards which were generally mopped up by the Creggan defence.
Ballysaggart got the boost of an early goal when Stephen Bennett shot low from a 20 metre free to the right of the goal, and although not all that well struck, it squeezed past the Creggan players on the goal line who clearly weren’t expecting it. Creggan subsequently began to dominate in the middle third of the park, but like many teams before them, found shooting at the Davin Stand goal with its swirling winds a difficult task. They shot seven first half wides to Ballysaggart’s two.
Ballysaggart’s second goal in the 20th minute was the best of the game. Kenneth Cashell sent in a great diagonal ball behind the Creggan defence from out on the right sideline for Shane Bennett to run on to, although it took him two attempts to get it past the Creggan goalkeeper. Their third goal in the 30th minute was a complete gift, as Stephen Bennett’s long-range free fell short but the Creggan goalkeeper allowed the ball to slip through his fingers into the net. Earlier, another long ball into the Creggan goalmouth also found its way to the net but the referee somewhat questionably disallowed the goal for a square ball. The half-time score was 3-6 to 0-6.
Ballysaggart started the second half with Shane Bennett moved to wing back from the full forward line, and this did give them more possession in that sector of the field. When Stephen Bennett pointed an early free to extend the lead to ten points only one result appeared likely. However, to give them their due, Creggan came back strongly, urged on by their numerous and vociferous supporters. They got a lifeline in the 40th minute when the Ballysaggart last line failed to clear the ball after goalie Matty Meaghe batted out a shot and a Creggan forward fired to an empty net.
With centre forward Oran McCann lording possession, Creggan landed some great points and a converted penalty on 50 minutes brought the deficit back to a single point. At that stage, a Creggan win looked inevitable, but Ballysaggart defended doggedly to maintain the one-point lead until Creggan finally landed a deserved equaliser from a long-range free on the call of fulltime.
Creggan continued to dominate matters in the first period of extra time to go into a three-point lead, only for déjà vu to strike again as Shane Bennett’s attempt at a long range point fell short, with the Creggan goalie again leaving the ball slip from his grasp and into the net. Creggan rebuilt their three-point lead in the second period of extra time and, with the Ballysaggart front line unable to create openings, the game seemed done and dusted.
Then, with normal time up, Kieran Bennett made a run down the left wing and lobbed a high ball into the edge of the square which ended up in the net with Shane Bennett, I think, getting the vital touch. The referee allowed two more minutes of play before calling a halt to what was an enthralling contest.
If Ballysaggart are to make the most of their unlikely second chance, they are going to have to raise their game to a higher level of intensity and will need to get a better type of ball into Stephen Bennett. They should also reconsider having Bennett taking long-distance frees which, on many occasions, fell short. Would it not be better to have someone else taking these frees and have Bennett at the end of them?
Ballysaggart scorers: Stephen Bennett 2-7 (2-5 from frees); Shane Bennett (3-0); Ronan Walsh (0-2); Kieran Bennett (0-1); Daniel Devine (0-1); Kenneth Cashell (0-1).
(originally posted on boards.ie)
Ballysaggart had a comfortable win over a game but limited Calry/St. Joseph’s side in the All-Ireland Club Junior semi-final in Tullamore today. Ballysaggart were much the better hurling team but rested on their oars a bit in the second half after building up a commanding lead. Despite the hopelessness of their situation, Calry battled away to the end but simply lacked a cutting edge up front. They only got one point from their forward division with midfielder and captain Keith Raymond contributing six (all but one from frees) and their centre back the other one.
The poor hurling conditions probably affected Ballysaggart the more. Apart from the heavy sod, a cold blustery wind blew frequent showers straight down the field, and a brief squall early in the second half made conditions almost impossible for the players.
Ballysaggart had first use of the wind, and deployed just Stephen and Shane Bennett in a two-main full forward line, a tactic that worked quite well. However, they started slowly, and in the first few minutes their goalie had to make a smart save and Calry hit a bad wide (they hit seven over the hour to Saggart’s five). Once Ballysaggart settled into the game they gained control and the scores started to come, mainly from Stephen Bennett frees.
The first goal came in the 12th minute when Shane Bennett ran onto a long ball from midfield and although he lost his hurley he kicked to the net. The second goal came ten minutes later. Shane Bennett got in a good shot which the goalie blocked out for a 65 which brother Stephen sent in low and it found its way to the back of the net. We then had a pair of superb long-range points from midfielder Kieran Bennett and two more excellent scores from wing forward Kenneth Cashell. Stephen Bennett essentially wrapped the game up in added time when he dispossessed a Calry defender and then squeezed a tap-down shot just inside the post to leave Ballysaggart 3-10 to 0-2 in front at the break.
Whatever chance Calry had of making a fight of it with the wind at their backs after the change of ends were killed off four minutes into the second half when Stephen Bennett let fly for the top corner from out on the left. An inrushing forward may have finished the ball to the net but I thought Bennett’s shot went all the way.
After that, and the ensuing squall, Ballysaggart relaxed somewhat, while Calry kept plugging away and notched six points but could not get the goal they would love to have got against a hard-working defence excellently marshalled and led by centre back Eugene O’Brien. The biggest cheer from the large Ballysaggart following came late in the game when diminutive substitute Michael Kearney scored a smashing point.
Final score: Ballysaggart 4-13 Calry/St. Joseph’s 0-8. Ballysaggart now play Creggan Kickhams of Antrim in the final in Croke Park on February 8 (throw-in time to be confirmed). They had a good 2-10 to 1-8 win in the other semi-final over Lancashire team Fullen Gaels who got to the final of this competition in 2013.
Ballysaggart: Matty Meagher; Bobby Ryan; Kieran Fennessy; Daniel Devince; Barry Murphy; Eugene O’Brien; Cailean O’Gorman; Christy Murphy; Kieran Bennett (0-2); Shane Bennett (1-0); Darren Meagher; Kenneth Cashell (0-2); Ronan Walsh; Stephen Bennett (3-8, 0-6 from frees, 1-1 from 65s); Tom Bennett.
Substitute: Michael Kearney (0-1). I think Stephen Hale and either Shane or Fearghal Meagher were the other two subsitutes brought on.
What is it with Waterford and handing out medals? In 2002 we had a load of to-ing and fro-ing as the County Board tried to engineer a grand beano for the handing out of the Munster championship medals. This didn’t sit too well with the players who were understandably a little reluctant to consider this an unalloyed triumph after losing to Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final. If memory serves me correct, they ended up posting out the medals.
Fast forward to 2013/14, and they seemed to get the carnival side of things right with lots of tales of a happy night for all in the Woodlands. But what’s this? A rumour began to ripple though the web that some of the players received shoddy medals valued at €4-5. This couldn’t be right, could it? It looks like it’s only partly right, with the County Board admitting that some of the additional medals that needed to be struck to ensure everyone involved got one over and above the 24 issued by Croke Park were incorrectly stamped/engraved but dismissing speculation about the prices of those extra medals as “totally inaccurate”.
What to make of it all? There’s always the chance that the County Board are not being entirely truthful about this affair. They have form in trying to deflect blame when a controversy erupts, even when they must have known that the truth would emerge. However, it seems reasonable to assume that if a member of the panel had received a medal that looked like something off the top of a bottle of WKD (not that they’d recognise that, no sirree) then we’d have had some reference to it on Facebook or Twitter. The fact that there has been no outpouring of teenage angst suggests that this was not the case and the explanation that a few medals were incorrectly engraved is the sum total of this story.
As scandals go, this is small beer. Mistakes are made when it comes to engraving all the time. The Stanley Cup is a notorious repository of the phenomenon:
In case you think I’m understating this, consider how much steam the story would have had if you stripped out the lurid suggestion that some players were effectively given fake medals and it had instead just been about a mistake in engraving. It’s not ideal, but it’s hardly a cause for outrage. I’ve seen it suggested that the County Board should have deputised someone to check the medals and ensure they were correct before they were handed out. Does that mean that lead time should be built into the process for every medal presentation to have errors corrected? You’re never going to eradicate human error, so fix the mistake and move on. How hard can that be?
Except that would be to miss the point of the fuss. There is a constituency out there who are convinced that everything the Waterford County Board does is inept. They were only too happy to believe a story that would cast the Board in the worst possible light, safe in the knowledge that even if they’re proven wrong it’s only dumb luck on the part of the Board – remember, they are ALWAYS inept – that they were not even more inept.
Is it too much for people to take time to get the full story before making their minds up? If we proceed from the point that everything the officers of the Board do is going to be ridiculed even when it happens to be untrue, then what person, the type who might have the talent and drive necessary to take the county forward, is going to want to take on the the task, thankless at the best of times. We have enough problems in the county without having to make up problems in order to make a point.
Hurling, Waterford Tags:
(originally posted on boards.ie)
Waterford eased to a comfortable nine-point victory in this interesting challenge in Fraher Field last night. The pitch was predictably very heavy but otherwise in good order for the time of year and especially after all the recent rain. It was a fine dry night which got colder as the game progressed, with a stiffish wind blowing towards the river goal.
The game was played in three periods of, respectively, 35, 25 and 20 minutes, an unusual arrangement made all the stranger by the fact that Waterford only had 17 players available and actually played the final period with only 14 on the field.
Despite playing against the wind, Waterford started the stronger and had three points on the board before UCC took over but found it hard to get scores. Waterford then came back to build up a comfortable lead as UCC faded, but they got something of a lifeline with a well-worked goal late in the first period to leave the score at the break 0-13 to 1-6.
UCC resumed strongly, and had got back on terms when a good Maurice Shanahan goal again put daylight between the teams. He got onto a good ball in from midfield and ran at the UCC last line of defence, finishing decisively to the net despite the close attentions of two UCC defenders. Waterford then built on their lead to go in at the end of the second period ahead by 1-20 to 2-12.
We expected UCC to be fitter than Waterford, given the timing of their hurling year, but despite playing into the wind and a man short, Waterford dominated the third period, with Ryan Donnelly putting the icing on the cake with a late goal, when he got onto a ball which broke behind the UCC defence to race in from 30 metres to finish well to the net.
Despite what has been reported in another post, as far as I recall Iggy O’Regan played the whole game in goal. He had little chance with the two goals that beat him and otherwise had little to do with his full back line doing well from start to finish. However, the high trajectory of his puckouts remains a problem.
While we were told that the right full back was Adam O’Sullivan (who, if my memory is correct, scored two goals for Waterford in the 2011 Munster minor hurling final), he looked and played like Shane McNulty. Whoever he was, he had an excellent game, with good drive and anticipation and really good stickwork. If it was O’Sullivan, then on this performance he adds yet another prospect to Derek McGrath’s growing list of players with potential.
Tadhg Bourke was, in anything, even more impressive, and seemed to get better as the game progressed. He started at full back but moved around the place as UCC played just five forwards in a fluid formation. He is strong, very clever, very skilful and mobile with a lovely swerve and definitely one for the future. Mark Wyse also held his own in the full back line.
At right half back Shane Fives (wearing a pair of shorts which would not have passed the late Tony Mansfield’s colour test!) played like a man possessed and was absolutely superb, landing three points before moving to full back in the third period. At centre back Brick Walsh was excellent as usual, while on the left Kevin Moran started well but faded out subsequently and was replaced by Adam Farrell.
Tom Devine had a very good first period in midfield, after which he retired, apparently due to illness, to be replaced by Jake Dillon who put in a hard-working shift. The other starting midfielder was Killian Fitzgerald who made little impression until moved to left half back in the second period, after which he came much more into the game.
Donie Breathnach, at No. 10 and subsequently midfield, was in and out of the game. He ran at the UCC defence on a number of occasions to good effect and ended up with three good points. Maurice Shanahan started at centre forward but moved about the place, and while some have been critical of his performance, he scored 1-3 from play to add to nine pointed frees to give him the same overall tally as he got last Sunday against Dublin. Seamus Keating started at No. 12 but his touch was poor and he made little impression. The same could be said for Mikey Kearney, making his debut, but I am sure we will see a lot more of this fine prospect.
The redoubtable Seamus Prendergast started at full forward but came much more into the game when moved to the half line before running out of steam towards the end of the second period. The lively Ryan Donnelly will be very happy with his harvest of 1-3 and he knows how to score when he gets the ball into his hand.
I didn’t take note of the UCC team, except that Paudie Prendergast played at centre back, Shane Roche at midfield and Jamie Barron (who notched 0-3) at right half forward.
Waterford: Iggy O’Regan; Adam O’Sullivan/Shane McNulty; Tadhg Bourke; Mark Wyse; Shane Fives (0-3); Brick Walsh; Kevin Moran; Tom Devine (0-1); Killian Fitzgerald (0-1); Donie Breathnach (0-3); Maurice Shanahan (1-12, 1-3 from play); Seamus Keating; Ryan Donnelly (1-3); Seamus Prendergast; Mikey Kearney. Subs: Jake Dillon; Adam Farrell.
It should be noted that there were no umpires on duty, and the reported score was a consensual agreement among a group of us in the stand, based mainly on keeping an eye of when referee Michael Wadding made an entry in his notebook.