Waterford footballers banished a 34-year wait for silverware to claim McGrath Cup honours at a cold Fraher Field last night, as goals from Joey Veale, Maurice O'Gorman and Gavin Nugent helped them past UCC.
The Déise won the inaugural tournament back in 1981 and Tom McGlinchey's group backed up their semi-final ousting of Cork.
The hosts held a 2-6 to 1-7 advantage after a free-flowing first half. Waterford made the perfect start when Joey Veale struck for an opportunist goal in the third minute. Liam Lawlor's point attempt dropped short but Patrick Hurney touched down for Veale to finish to the net. UCC replied with four points from Conor Horgan, Adrian Spillane, David Harrington and Kevin Davis.
The hosts snuck ahead with Shane Ahearne and Michael Curry on target before the visitors blasted back through a wonderfully created three-pointer. Alan O'Donovan's delicious pass picked out Tom Hickey and his fierce shot was saved by Stephen Enright before an alert Conor Horgan poked over the line (1-4 to 1-2).
In a fast-paced half, centre-back Maurice O'Gorman burst forward from defence to put Waterford back in front (2-4 to 1-5). The highly influential Liam Lawlor and Patrick Hurney pushed them four up but a Tom Hickey brace left two between the teams at halfway.
In a cagey second half, Harrington and Ahearne traded early points. Waterford opened clear daylight on 50 minutes. Michael O'Halloran's long delivery was fumbled by the UCC defence and full-forward Gavin Nugent hammered home (3-7 to 1-8). Points by Tommy Prendergast, David Grey, Conor Phelan and Shane Ahearne moved them out of sight.
With four competitive wins under their belt, Waterford will start their Division 4 campaign against Wicklow full of confidence next weekend.
Scorers - Waterford: S Ahearne 0-4 (3fs), J Veale, M O'Gorman, G Nugent 1-0 each; P Hurney, L Lawlor 0-2 each; M Curry, T Prendergast, D Grey, C Phelan 0-1 each. UCC: C Horgan 1-2 (2fs); D Harrington 0-3, T Hickey 0-2 (1f); K Davis, A Spillane 0-1 each.
Waterford: S Enright; D Crowley, N Walsh, T O'Gorman; T Ó hUallacháin, M O'Gorman, R Ó Ceallaigh; S Ahearne, T Prendergast; M Curry, M O'Halloran, P Hurney; L Lawlor, G Nugent, J Veale.
Subs: D Grey for Veale (52); J Curry for P Hurney (61); B Power for Crowley (66); O Keevers for Prendergast (66), M Ferncombe for M Curry (69).
UCC: P McCarthy (Kerry); J Davis (Cork), K Fulingati (Cork), K Histon (Cork); K O'Sullivan (Kerry), S White (Cork), E Dennehy (Cork); A O'Donovan (Cork), A Spillane (Kerry); F O'Connor (Cork), K Davis (Cork), S Keane (Kerry); T Hickey (Kerry), D Harrington (Cork), É Ó Conchúir (Kerry). Subs: F Courtney for Hickey (h-t); K Hayes-Curtin (Cork) for J Davis (42); C Hyde (Cork) for White (43); P Scanlon (Kerry) for O'Donovan (44), P Lohan (Tipperary) for Harrington (51), S Power (Tipperary) for Keane (61).
Referee: S Mulvihill (Kerry)
Sunday Indo Sport