'Nuggets of hope' for Deise as Galway draw comfort
Waterford 0-24 Galway 1-21
Galway manager Micheál Donoghue spoke before the game about his wish to see the Tribesmen make a faster start into matches, but he could have no complaint about the way in which his players finished each half of an exciting contest at Walsh Park yesterday.
Donoghue and Déise manager Derek McGrath are, like so many team bosses at this stage, sifting through their available resources, coping with injuries and players with club and college commitments, and also seeking good results in a hugely competitive top division.
In the circumstances both men could find positives at the end of a drawn match which could have gone either way in a pulsating, tense finish.
Galway's version of The Late, Late Show close to half-time and again in the latter stages of the second half brought them a fruitful reward, despite the prospect of a relegation play-off to come against Cork.
A Niall Burke goal just before the interval was a real shocker for the home side.
Burke took his chance with deadly accuracy, but the opportunity stemmed from Waterford's failure to get the sliotair far enough away to safety following a goalmouth scramble.
That score sent the visitors into the break leading by a point at 1-10 to 0-12 instead of being two points down as they were just moments before Burke's blaster to the net.
Waterford rose to the challenge. They managed to get three points ahead on a couple of occasions in the second half but Galway kept battling, and drew level on 66 minutes from Cathal Mannion's point for 1-20 to their opponents' 0-23.
With three minutes of time added on by referee Brian Gavin, the intensity ramped up in the next seven minutes.
David Burke put Galway one ahead and with a minute left to play, Waterford's Gavin O'Brien sent the sliotar soaring over the bar from all of 80 metres for the equaliser.
The crowd of 5,029 got very good value for their money, and while the match did not achieve the fever pitch of Championship fare, the rival supporters could sense the two teams are making progress.
Donoghue was happy with the strong finish of his team.
"We finished fairly strong, and probably were a bit unlucky not to hold out, but Waterford are a resilient team and came back well," he said. "There's a lot of positives for us in the last few games since the Dublin game. There's a lot of stuff we can work on and just try to bring that to the Cork game and to the Championship."
McGrath was aware of some adverse local comment about the much-changed nature of his side.
He gave debuts to Conor Gleeson, Shane Roche and Colm Roche (brother of Shane), while Tommy Ryan and Shane McNulty came back into the side for the first time in a couple of seasons.
The other bonus was that he also introduced Pauric Mahony late on for his first appearance for the Déise in 11 months since suffering a bad leg break.
"I thought it was a good game, high quality scores in it, and I was very happy with our performance," said McGrath
"In the run-up to the game there was talk within Waterford circles if you like, that maybe we should have made five changes last week and five this week, that ten was overly dramatic.
"The start helped us settle into it. We didn't want a situation where guys would be disheartened or any type of 'B' team status associated with it. We don't feel we're in the company of a lot of the top teams where we can be putting out different teams.
"We're just trying to look for little nuggets of hope and we got some today.
"We were glad to get Pauric into it. We just felt that in the home game that he would benefit from the crowd being delighted to see him back and that would give him a confidence boost going forward."
Free-taker Maurice Shanahan was on form, hitting all but one of his scores from placed balls. Shane Bennett's 0-6 included some fine long range strikes and goalie Ian O'Regan made a fine reflex save from a goal-bound shot by Niall Burke in the first half.
The Tribesmen's ace forward Joe Canning was shadowed throughout by Waterford skipper Kevin Moran but still managed to score 0-6, four from frees.
David Burke at the heart of the defence, the roving Niall Burke and the elusive Cathal Mannion were prominent in the key exchanges at both ends of the field.
The reigning league champions had started well, moving the sliotair briskly and efficiently. Tom Devine opened the scoring just 30 seconds after the start, and after 16 minutes, the Deise led 0-7 to 0-3.
Galway's first point came from after two minutes by Davy Glennon and from then the scoreboard ticked over sluggishly enough for Galway, with Jason Flynn and Canning (free) adding to Glennon's score.
Towards the end of that half, with the visitors notching 1-3 in the last five minutes to Waterford's 0-1 in that period.
They came good again when it counted late in the second half, with a scoring burst of four unanswered points from the 60th to the 66th minute.
That brought them level at 1-20 to 0-23 and set up that big finish.
Scorers - Waterford: M Shanahan 0-9 (8fs); S Bennett 0-6; B O'Halloran 0-3; M Kearney 0-2; T Devine, C Roche, T Ryan, G O'Brien 0-1 each. Galway: J Canning 0-6 (4fs); N Burke 1-3; D Burke, C Mannion, C Whelan, E Burke, D Glennon 0-2 each; J Flynn, A Harte, 0-1 each.
Waterford - I O'Regan 7; C Gleeson 7, S McNulty 7, S Roche 7; K Moran 7, T De Burca 7, G O'Brien 7; S O'Sullivan 7, A Gleeson 6; C Roche 7, T Ryan 7, T Devine 7; B O'Halloran 7, M Shanahan 8, S Bennett 8. Subs: M Kearney 6 for A Gleeson (48); J Dillon 6 for C Roche (55); Philip Mahony 6 for S O'Sullivan (61); Pauric Mahony for T Ryan (68);
Galway - J Skehill 7; P Hoban 6, J Hanbury 7, F Moore 7; A Tuohy 7, D Burke 7 , D Collins 7; D Glennon 6, A Harte 6; J Flynn 7, N Burke 8, J Canning 7 ; A Smith 7, C Mannion 7, E Burke 7. Subs: R Burke 7 for P Hoban (46); C Whelan 7 for A Smith (47); R Cummins6 for E Burke (57); S Moloney for J Flynn (67)
Ref - B Gavin (Offaly)