Waterford United 2 – 1 Limerick FC

Limerick FC Scorers: Shane Tracey (85 pen)

Wateford Scorers: Brian O’Callaghan (11 og), Graham Cummins (62)

Saturday 25th July 2009

Waterford United claimed a tough but deserved victory over Limerick in this hot-tempered Munster derby. The Blues came away 2-1 winners at the RSC through a Brian O’Callaghan own-goal and a Graham Cummins penalty. Limerick managed a late reply, also from the spot, through Shane Tracey.

The game lacked any real tempo or urgency for much of the first-half with neither side taking the attacking impetus. It was the visitors who managed the first chance, in the 5th minute. Shane Tracey let out a shot from his left foot on the edge of the Waterford area. He knew he should have done better as he watched the ball screw away to the left of Mick Devine’s goal. The opening goal arrived in the 11th minute and it came through Limerick’s captain, Brian O’Callaghan, unfortunately for the centre-back it was Dave Ryan and not Devine he scored past. Dave Warren picked out ex-Limerick player Paul Walsh on the right side of the Shannonsiders’ box and he drilled in a low near-post cross which O’Callaghan could only poke into his own net.

The home side were expected to push on from this good start and establish a foothold in this scrappy game but it never really materialised. They maintained superior possession but failed to craft anything of note going forward. Limerick meanwhile were looking toothless in attack and wasteful in possession. The game descended into a drab affair with genuine chances at a premium. In the 23rd minute Waterford’s deadly duo up front finally linked together, Graham Cummins aiming a delicate knock-down into the path of the onrushing Willie John Kiely who miss-hit his left-foot effort from 20-yards. Two minutes later Kiely attempted another left-foot effort from a Cummins headed pass and again he failed to trouble Ryan in the Limerick goal. The main talking-point of the half happened in the 37th minute when referee Jim McKell and one of his linesman combined to deny the visitors a penalty. Lone-striker John Tierney raced for a through-ball running wide of the six-yard box and with Devine sliding out he appeared to nick the ball before falling to the floor. The linesman directly in front of the incident immediately raised his flag to signal a free-kick to Waterford. Referee McKell agreed and booked Tierney for diving, a penalty would have been a harsh decision given that Devine appeared to pull his arms away before the striker tumbled. The last action of the half was a Warren blast which went well over Ryan’s goal after Kiely did well to pick out the midfielder’s run.

The pace picked up significantly for the second-half and the game improved drastically as a spectacle. Two minutes into the half Cummins escaped down the left channel, but his shot was straight at Ryan from a tight angle. Waterford were now passing the ball with something like the fluency the side usually produces. On 54 minutes Kiely robbed Martin Deady and drove at the Limerick back-line, playing a one-two with Walsh on the edge of the box before seeing his shot first-time shot deflected out for a corner. Three minutes later the forward produced a nice turn to find space and attempted to chip the retreating Ryan from 25-yards, but his effort dipped just over. The home side scored the crucial second goal on 62 minutes and it came from a penalty decision that, this time, was given. Deady felled Cummins inside the area and the linesman once again made the decision immediately. On this occasion he signaled in favour of a penalty, much to the frustration of the travelling Limerick support. Cummins dusted himself down to take the kick but didn’t strike it too well, allowing Ryan to make a good save to his left. The ball fell right back at the feet of the former Cobh man and he made no mistake this time, rifling the ball home from eight yards.

That second goal deflated what was already a faltering Limerick challenge and Waterford were confidently stroking the ball around. The Suirsiders should even have added to their lead on 76 minutes. Cummins once again made ground down the left and his pace allowed him to find space to centre for Kiely who struck against the legs of the advancing Ryan from just outside the six-yard box. Limerick did finally get the penalty they felt they deserved in the 85th minute. Kevin Murray pulled back Tierney inside the area and the referee this time took responsibility upon himself to award the spot-kick. Shane Tracey stepped up and coolly slotted the ball just inside the right-hand post with Devine agonisingly close to reaching it. The Shannonsiders desperately attempted to find an equalizer but despite a series of long-range free-kicks floated into the Waterford area, the home side hung on for a crucial win in their quest for promotion.

Waterford United (4-4-2): Michael Devine; Alan Carey, John Kearney, Kevin Murray, Kenny Browne; Seamus Long, Dave Warren, Paul Walsh (Joe Mulcahy 82), Kevin Waters; Willie John Kiely (David Grincell 81), Graham Cummins.
Subs Not Used: Kevin Burns, Paul McCarthy, Stephen Grant.

Limerick FC (4-5-1): Dave Ryan; Martin Deady, Conor Molan, Brian O’Callaghan, Niall Donnelly; Gavin Roche, Dave Ryan, Tomás Barrett (David McGrath 39), Dean Finnan (Jack Allen 67), Shane Tracey; John Tierney.
Subs Not Used: Andy Moloney, Robbie Kelleher, Michael Sheehan.

Referee: Jim McKell (Tipperary)

Attendance: 310

Match Report courtesy of www.extratime.ie