This was a very lethargic and error-ridden performance by Waterford. Maybe they had another one of their heavy training sessions during the week. There may also have been a bit of taking Wexford for granted. In Waterford’s first attack, Colin Dunford had an easy tap-over point from in front of the goal but decided to take on the full back line looking for a goal and got hooked. There was a bit of arrogance in this, plus another example of Dunford’s poor decision making.
That set the scene for a Waterford display full of sloppy ball control, bad passes, waiting for the ball to come to them, aimless balls sent to unmarked Wexford players. Wexford were more alert, were working much harder, were winning the rucks (usually a key area of Waterford dominance) and showing much better ball control. There were 0-7 to 0-1 up after 15 minutes and 0-8 to 0-2 after 20. Waterford started Austin Gleeson at full forward but no ball came in as Wexford were on top outfield.
Waterford did steady the ship and got the score back to 0-8 all before Wexford took the lead again just before half time. Waterford were a bit unlucky not to score a goal when the Wexford goalie dropped the ball but it ended up going out for a 65. Wexford sent a lot of high ball into Conor McDonald at full forward but he had a stinker of a game and was well marshalled by Barry Coughlan. Wexford never threatened the Waterford goal with Tadhg de Búrca covering very well, although he was as guilty as anyone else of dropping balls and giving poor passes and clearances.
Waterford equalised two or three times after the restart but Wexford kept coming back to go ahead, and got some really good scores. However, once Waterford got their nose in front they stretched their lead out to four points, mainly because of some really terrible wides by Wexford. Then coming up to the end, Wexford got a goal out of nothing when McDonald managed to get his hand to a long free in to finish to the net. From the puckout Wexford engineered a lovely equalising point, and at that stage I was hoping we would get into extra time.
Then Waterford got a free on the right sideline about 35 metres out. It was an awkward enough angle, but Maurice once again split the posts. He had one more chance from a long range free which was signalled wide although it looked good to me. However, he was our saviour on the day with 12 points in all – nine frees, one 65 and two from play (one a real beauty). He missed his first free from distance and also the last one. Wexford missed at least five handy frees.
It didn’t help Waterford’s cause that Austin Gleeson hit four sidelines badly wide and also missed two long-distance frees, although he did hit two beauties from play. Philip Mahony, Brick Walsh and Patrick Curran were our other scorers. I thought Philip Mahony was our most consistent player throughout, while the full back line generally coped well and Kevin Moran also worked hard. Tom Devine replaced Patrick Curran midway through the second half and made an impact. Brian O’Halloran and Mikey Kearney came on up front for Jake Dillon and Shane Bennett while Shane McNulty got a few minutes near the end in place of Noel Connors.