Blues share the spoils on opening night

Blues share the spoils on opening night

Waterford FC 1

Shelbourne 1

A late equaliser from Sean Boyd denied Waterford FC a winning start to their SSE Airtricity Premier Division campaign, as they shared the spoils with Shelbourne in a lively encounter at the RSC.

The electric atmosphere could hardly have gotten any louder before kick-off, but it didn't take long for Waterford FC's season to catch fire in front of a 4,390-strong crowd.


A long ball from goalkeeper Sam Sergeant set away debutant Maleace Asamoah down the right wing, and he showed the speed of an Olympic sprinter to get away from his marker, before hitting a low and hard drive under goalkeeper Conor Kearns to send the home support into raptures.


The Blues looked to build on their early momentum, and their cause would've been further buoyed after just 12 minutes when Shane Griffin was forced off through injury, Kameron Ledwidge coming on to replace him for Damien Duff's men.

Niall O'Keeffe was the first man to enter the book for a rough challenge on 18 minutes, but besides that blot - the Blues would've been relatively delighted with their first quarter back in the big time.

Barry Baggley overlapped down the left wing and delivered a great cross, and Conor Kearns made a spectacular save to deny Padraig Amond's header - though the gasps from the support mattered little as the referee had actually blown for a foul during the passage. From the resulting delivery, Ryan Burke unleashed a volley from the edge of the area, but it was well smothered by the Shels defence.

The Dubliners had their first sight on goal on 21 minutes after a swift break, but Matty Smith fired over the bar from the cutback to the relief of the home side, and their relief was doubled soon after when John O'Sullivan also misfired from inside the box.

Asamoah's electric pace was causing serious trouble to the visitors, and he was hauled down illegally by Kameron Ledwidge approaching the half hour, in a moment that really roused the home support.

Asamoah and Darragh Power continued to threaten down the right, as the Blues sought to double their advantage approaching the interval, and they were close to doing so when captain Baggley headed narrowly wide from an inswinging corner.

Damien Duff was irate on the sidelines at what his side had conjured in the opening 35 minutes, and that would be music to the ears of Keith Long and his men. The visitors did continue to threaten though, great defending from Niall O'Keeffe denying a lurking Mark Coyle from slotting in the equaliser.

Asamoah once again burst down the right on 37 minutes, and found Connor Parsons but his flick was turned behind by the Shels defence. Not long after, Padraig Amond's eyes would've lit up when Sean Gannon's backpass seemed too short, but to the defender's relief - out rushed Kearns to come to the rescue.

Tyreke Wilson tried his luck acrobatically as the game approached half time, but the effort floated straight into the grateful grasp of Sam Sergeant. Wilson was then played over the top by Gavin Molloy for what seemed to be a gilt-etched opportunity, but the full-back's touch let him down. 1-0 to the Blues at the break.

A poor challenge from Coyle on Baggley incensed the home crowd early after the break, but it was an eye for an eye soon after as Ryan Burke entered the book having returned the favour.

The opening opportunity of the second period fell to John O'Sullivan but he was denied by some resolute defending by Robbie McCourt on 55 minutes, the Blues rearguard once again holding firm.

Niall O'Keeffe then opened up the pitch with a fine pickout, before Baggley stung the palms of Kearns from distance. McCourt was next to pick up a yellow for a rough challenge, as Shels grew into the game with Duff ringing the changes.

The tempo petered out somewhat in the second half as the visitors applied pressure, but the home side had the answer to every question that was thrown their way in the opening 70 minutes.

Teenage star Romeo Akachukwu was brought on for his Premier Division debut as he replaced Connor Parsons, before the lively Asamoah won a corner but looked to have hurt himself in the process.

It all went south for the Blues on 77 minutes, Darragh Leahy's clearance hit Grant Horton, and Shane Farrell combined with fellow substitute Sean Boyd for the latter to slot home from close range. A sucker punch for the home side.

They did almost immediately respond but Kearns was on hand to smother a snapshot from Akachukwu. As both sides pushed for the winner, the momentum immediately swung in Waterford's favour as goalscorer Boyd went from hero to villain. He was shown a straight red card by referee Kevin O'Sullivan having swung his elbow straight into the face of Grant Horton on 83 minutes.

An ill temper began to flare at the RSC with just minutes left on the clock, with tensions high as both sides were desperate to get the season off to a winning start. Ten minutes of added time was announced and the atmosphere was electric as ever.

Shels had a great opportunity from a free kick at the edge of the box but it was fired well over by Farrell to the delight of the home support, before Sergeant rushed out of goal to clear when Will Jarvis raced through late on.

Darragh Power made a marauding run up the flank with just five minutes left, winning a free from a promising position, and it was headed away for another corner - and Shels survived the late storm.

Akachukwu cut in and struck off the left foot but it flashed wide - 1-1 the final score on opening night at the RSC.

The Blues are next in action on Friday, February 23rd away to Drogheda United - a game we will bring to you live on WLR thanks to McConnell's Toyota Waterford. 

Waterford FC: Sam Sergeant; Darragh Power, Kacper Radkowski, Darragh Leahy, Ryan Burke (Grant Horton' 60); Niall O'Keeffe; Maleace Asamoah (Ben McCormack '76), Barry Baggley, Robbie McCourt, Connor Parsons (Romeo Akachuwu '71), Padraig Amond.

Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Sean Gannon, Shane Griffin (Kameron Ledwidge '12), Lewis Temple (Caffrey '60), Tyreke Wilson (Will Jarvis '60); John O'Sullivan, JJ Lunney, Liam Burt; Gavin Molloy, Mark Coyle (Shane Farrell '60), Matthew Smith (Sean Boyd '67).

Referee: Kevin O'Sullivan