First things first, the 4-2 scoreline against Waterford down in the RSC on Friday night did not reflect the game. This was a dramatic game alright with great skill, passion and tension, it provided six goals and many talking points. However the main talking point was the quality of the match officials. Even some of the home support agreed on this point. The sending off of Wilo Mc Donagh was not merited and from our point of view destroyed our chances. That combination of poor officialdom left us with an impossible task. But in fairness there were a few other factors too but more of those later.
It's a long three hour plus trip but with some excellent driving skills by Kane's Paul Smyth and Mel's navigational expertise, we arrived just in time for kick off. It was always going to be a tough ask to get anything down there but straight away, it was the visitors who took the game to their hosts and we could have opened our account after just a minute. But as the game wore on, the Town grew in confidence and that confidence was well founded when Thomas Crawley put us one up after 20 minutes. Tony Griffiths provided a crisp pass and Crawley , from the the edge of the box, swivelled and unleashed a rocket. It was all Town after that, though Waterford's starlet did get a good save out of Craig Hyland. The home crowd seemed to be getting frustrated and when Crawley, had the ball in the net again with an absolute peach of a curling shot, it looked like we were in for a great night. However, the goal was ruled offside and we went in just leading by a single goal. It should have been more as Birmingham, Crawley and Griffiths all had chances. But we were reasonably happy and blissfully unaware of the horror story that lay ahead in the second half.
The half was barely five minutes old when disaster struck. Craig Hyland left his box to deal with a long ball and unfortunately missed it. And as luck would have it, Sean Maguire was lurking and duly punished us. These things happen, the keeper is only human. Buoyed by that sickener, Waterford suddenly found their stride. Maguire has been a thorn in most sides all season and when Wilo Mc Donagh upended the youngster in a hard but fair tackle (he won the ball), the ref flashed red straight away. As soon as the red card was issued, Maguire suddenly sprung to his feet, a miraculous recovery witnessed by the stunned 600 crowd. Austin Skelly, on the bench clearly didn't believe the miracle and said something to upset the linesman...the fourth official even had to calm the man with the flag. But he called in support from the man with the whistle, who duly flashed his red card at Ozzie. With the locals now baying for blood, their team obliged by scoring again just seven minutes after Ozzie was dismissed. But the howling, chanting and sneering was silenced after a mere three minutes when Tony Griffiths found the back of the Waterford net with a free to draw the sides level with about 25 minutes to go.
At this stage, we hoped to hold out for a draw despite being down to ten players on the field. But every fifty fifty decision seemed to go the home way and Waterford pressed home their numerical advantage as well. Disaster struck when Maguire struck again after some good work on his behalf. But we never gave up and fought gallantly for every ball. In the dying moments we smashed the crossbar and when the ref waved play on despite a clear handball in the home box, we knew it wasn't going to be our night. Then with a minute of ordinary time left, Michael Lee fouled Maguire and this time the ref pointed to the spot straight away. Maguire, who looked like he was dead earlier on, duly converted for his hat trick.
And so it ended, four two. The lads played their hearts out and were distraught afterwards. We didn't stop for a meal on the way home as the bitter pill lasted most of that journey.
SD GALWAY AT HOME
We entertain SD Galway this Saturday night which is our second last home game of the League ( not counting playoffs). After having lost our first away game all season, it's going to difficult to dust ourselves down but it has to be done. SD Galway lost to league leaders,Limerick by just a single goal last week-end. So with nothing to lose, they'll be difficult opponents on Saturday night.
Galway won't be bringing too many supporters but we really do need as many as possible to come out and support our own. It's important that we get a win ahead of our home game against Limerick the following week, so please do come out and support . Support your own, now that's real sport.
According to those more knowledgeable than this scribbler, the outcome from our defeat on Friday means that we should be playing Waterford at home first in the play offs, with the second game away in the atmosphere lacking RSC. Should we finish in second place ahead of the Blues, the opposite will happen. Apart from the long trip to Waterford, there's a running track round the pitch which means there's no real connection between players and the crowd. The facilities are quite good but it's just not like a real footballing place. That pill is sticking still !
PLAYER OF THE MONTH
The schools have settled back, the leaves are changing colour and there's a chill in the air. All of which means, it's the end of the month again and time to pick your player of the month for September. After the SD Galway game, get in touch with Marty Stapleton on 086 3602912 with your nomination.Please note the change of number. The award will be presented by Brendan Turner before our game against Limerick the following week. Remember too, there's no rule against a player winning the award for more than one month.
A special word of thanks to Liam Healion for organising the buses all season to date. It's something many take for granted but remember the bus just doesn't appear out of the fog and a lot of frustrating work takes place behind the scenes. Last Friday's operation was military like in timing and we actually pulled away a minute ahead of schedule and we were back home on the dot of 1am, having watched DVDs as we sped through Waterford,Kilkenny,Carlow,Kildare and other far flung places.
The industrious team out Flancare way have been hard at work once again. The latest addition are nets behind the far goals. Up until now, the wayward shooting of strikers from all clubs has seen many balls disappear into the fields behind that goals.Some have reported seeing a five a sides with cows versus bullocks taking place after some games. All that should come to an end now with the erection of the nets and which should also see greater continuity of games. First player who manages to send the ball over the nets will be presented with wooden boots.