Waterford United 2 - 1 Limerick FCSat, Jul 07 2012
Waterford United made it three wins against Limerick this season with a 2-1 victory over their Munster rivals in the RSC on Friday evening. Denis Behan had put Pat Scully's men into a first-half lead, but headed goals from Peter White and Dylan Mernagh after the break secured another memorable derby win for the Suirsiders.
Day-long torrential rain had cast a shadow of doubt over whether or not this game would take place. Confusion enjoyed an extended reign in the city throughout Friday afternoon as a local radio station even read out a false text declaring that the match had been postponed. Thankfully for both sets of players and fans, club officials insisted that there had never been any genuine doubts, and the pitch had held up admirably.
There were still signs of the day's heavenly onslaught however, as surface water occasionally erupted around the feet of a player in full stride. In such an environment did the embryonic stages of this match grow, to an altogether bleak conclusion. Whether it was the considerable influence of nature, or whether the players and managers nurtured an uninspired, often borderline-unwatchable 45 minutes of play is open to debate, though everyone present could agree that a 15 minute half time break had been a most merciful invention.
For its part, this footballing equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition - just as unwelcome, though perhaps a tad more expected - did produce one noteworthy moment: the opening goal. Shane Tracy displayed remarkable control and a change of pace to match a Scud missile as he left Paul Carey sucking fumes in his wake, before his low cut-back ricocheted off a couple of bodies and dropped nicely for Denis Behan to wallop past Packie Holden from all of 14 yards.
So, with tea consumed and six decades of the rosary desperately performed, the second-half began - watched through iron bars of weapons grade rain. Waterford wunderkind Sean Maguire began to threaten the Limerick defence with his twisting, wriggling brand of ball manipulation and all of a sudden a Munster derby was taking place before our disbelieving eyes. Despite some significantly improved ball retention (i.e. any ball retention), it was still set-pieces which seemed either side's most likely avenue to goal.
On 54 minutes, it was the home side that looked to have found the game's crucial second strike, but an excellent aerial save from Barry Ryan denied a decidedly salmonesque rise and headed effort from David Breen. The Blues would not be denied though, and from the resulting corner Peter White nodded home Gary Dempsey's near-post delivery to equalise.
Waterford now began to enjoy arguably their best spell of football thus far this season, pushing their opponents deeper and deeper as they calmly probed for a winning goal. With tackles flying and water and mud splashing like a Sky Sports HD advert, it was still proving incredibly difficult to create genuine openings. The blueprint had already been drawn however, and on 65 minutes Dempsey once more curled over a corner and this time young defender Dylan Mernagh took his turn to head home.
Limerick now scrambled to locate their own blueprint for winning the game, but discovered it had been badly smudged in the downpour and thus they decided to rain balls down upon the Waterford goal and see if the Blues defence could weather their storm. Thankfully for Paul O'Brien, they could. Craig Burns, the flame-haired Mernagh, Paul Carey and the ageless David Breen were all later given glowing praise for their resolute second-half performance, and aided by the occasional relief of youthful, Maguire-inspired counter-attacks, they clung on for a vital three points in the push for promotion.
Waterford United: Packie Holden; Paul Carey, Craig Burns, David Breen, Dylan Mernagh; Peter Higgins, Gary Dempsey (Conor Coad 92), Peter White, Paul Phelan (Jack Doherty 60); Peter Keegan, Sean Maguire.
Subs not used: Robbie Hughes, Stephen Mulcahy, Jamie Cross, John Frost, Gary Keane.
Yellow Cards: Carey.
Limerick FC: Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Corie Tracey, Shane Guthrie, Shane Tracy; Garry Sheahan (Dominic Foley 72), Stephen Bradley (Jeffrey Judge 79), Stephen McGann (Joe Gamble 65), David O'Leary; Rory Gaffney, Denis Behan.
Subs not used: Dave Ryan, Andrew Cowpar, Garbhan Coughlan, Sean Brosnan.
Yellow Cards: Guthrie, C Tracey.
Referee: Keith Callanan (Cork).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Peter White.
Dean covers Waterford United and, due to a challenge from Gareth, writes in an increasingly Gonzo style. Having found himself with a considerable surplus of a culinary herb, Dean founded sister 'site extrathyme.ie some years ago. He can be annoyed @DeanGHayes.