Sport

Waterford FC have been relegated

Waterford FC's disastrous week has ended on the worst possible note with the Blues having been relegated to the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland First Division.

Goals from Dara Keane and Colm Whelan cancelled out Anthony Wordsworth's opener, as the Blues lose their status as Munster's only Premier Division club on the same week they parted company with manager Marc Bircham.

The evening got off to the best scenario imaginable, as Ian Hendon's contigent struck oil early on.

After four minutes, the rapturous Blues crowd, Bircham included, were celebrating wildly.

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Jack Stafford's long-throw bobbled around the box, and Anthony Wordsworth was on hand to cannon the ball into the bottom right corner to give Waterford the start they dreamed of.

 

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A strong start from the Blues saw Stafford and Greg Halford at the heart of all things positive - but they did struggle to create chances after opening the scoring.

Cameron Evans took a self-inflicted tumble in the area on 12 minutes which the referee rightly waved away, as the Students grew into the game.

The lively Liam Kerrigan caused problems all evening, as he could find space in a phonebox - and a right wing delivery from Colm Whelan sailed just over his head when unmarked in the area.

That was to matter little, as Andy Myler's men grabbed the equaliser eight minutes later - with Kerrigan turning provider.

He dug out a low cross from the right flank which skidded across the area and Dara Keane was on hand to bundle the ball home at the far post.

Few could argue that UCD weren't deserving of drawing level having played the better football, but they were almost behind once again after seconds as Halford glanced wide from a brilliant delivery by Junior Quitirna.

That was as good as it got for the Blues in the first half, as Whelan and Kerrigan began to run riot, with Kerrigan letting fly from outside the area and stinging the palms of Brian Murphy on the half-hour mark.

Waterford broke down the field and a great flick on from John Martin played in Phoenix Patterson, who was closed down by Michael Gallagher just as he was about to strike.

Disaster struck on 33 minutes, when Dara Keane got in down the left and was somehow allowed to weave his way along the sideline before troubling Murphy and from the breaking ball - the unmarked Whelan trotted in all alone to plunder to the empty net. 2-1 to the Students in a matter of minutes.

Whelan struck the wall with a free-kick as a frustrated Waterford looked devoid of ideas - the sound of Paul McLaughlin's whistle meaning Ian Hendon had a hell of a speech to deliver in the following 15 minutes.

Two early sights on goal for Colm Whelan had the Blues sweating at the beginning of the second half, with Paul Doyle threading the striker through - but thankfully for Waterford, Brian Murphy got out in time to close the striker down and deny him a 23rd goal of the season.
The Thomastown man’s movement was causing the world of trouble for the Blues, while they could get little going themselves - the majority of their threat coming from set-pieces.
Jack Stafford entered the book for cynically bringing a counter attack to a stop, as the Dubliners looked a real threat every time they broke forward. Jack Keaney tried his luck from a free-kick but his effort sailed over the crossbar.

26 November 2021; Dara Keane of UCD celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's first goal during the SSE Airtricity League Promotion / Relegation Play-off Final between UCD and Waterford at Richmond Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Martin made a fantastic run and the ball found itself at the feet of Quitirna, but his effort curled left and wide to his frustration.
Waterford almost found themselves 3-1 down on 62 minutes as Paul Doyle’s corner tested Murphy and from the resultant scramble, Sam Todd swivelled and struck the outside of the upright.
Devoid of ideas, the Blues switched things up with Shane Griffin entering the picture, John Martin moving up front and Halford heading back into defence.
UCD fans would argue that Niall O’Keeffe should have gotten a second yellow in as many minutes when he brought down Keane, but the referee was undeterred. The only booking resulting went to the Students manager, Andy Myler.
Lorcan Healy could have called for a footstool for most of the second period as Waterford never caused him any trouble of note, as they sought the all important goal to help maintain their Premier Division status.
Cameron Evans was the fifth Blue to enter the book as he scythed down Paul Doyle. Counters became common as Waterford pushed for an equaliser but chances were at a minimum.
A stop-start second period suited the Students much better than the Blues, as Murphy once again was on hand to beat livewire Whelan to a breaking ball on 73 minutes.
Cameron Evans’ questionable backpass saw another similar situation arise seconds later but thankfully Murphy again was on his toes to clear and clatter in tandem.
Greg Halford also saw yellow for a clash with the striker off the ball, with the Dublin faithful again calling for a red. Corners looked the greatest avenue for Waterford as they rolled the dice late on, but credit to Harvey O’Brien and Sam Todd - they cleared everything thrown in their direction.
Ronaldo Green’s effort was closed down by Kerrigan before Waterford’s misery was compiled when O’Keeffe was dismissed for a second yellow on 87 minutes.
Shouts of ‘come on’ filled the air as the fourth official announced five minutes of stoppage time.
It was almost good night as Dara Keane motored past Eddie Nolan but Murphy saved well with his feet.
The long balls came, but went again as UCD comfortably coasted home. Chants of ‘we are going up!’ came from the UCD crowd, as McLaughlin’s whistle brought the curtain down on a rollercoaster season for Waterford - with the worst possible ending.
The Blues will play First Division football next season.

Waterford FC: Brian Murphy; Darragh Power (Niall O'Keeffe '45), Eddie Nolan, Kyle Ferguson (Shane Griffin '62), Jack Stafford (Ronaldo Green '85); Greg Halford, Cameron Evans, Anthony Wordsworth; Junior Quitirna, John Martin, Phoenix Patterson

University College Dublin: Lorcan Healy; Michael Gallagher, Harvey O'Brien, Sam Todd, Evan Osam; Liam Kerrigan, Jack Keaney, Sean Brennan, Paul Doyle; Dara Keane, Colm Whelan

Referee: Paul McLaughlin

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