Waterford FC fans bemoan 'fortnight from hell' for Irish football
FORMER Football Association of Ireland (FAI) boss John Delaney's proud Waterford roots didn't protect him tonight from the scathing criticism of disappointed Déise fans.
Waterford FC supporters admitted it had been "a fortnight from hell" for Irish football - with the damage to morale inflicted from recent revelations now threatening to take years to repair.
Adding to Waterford's woes was the row over a UEFA license qualification which threatens to have them expelled from playing in the money-spinning Europa League.
The UEFA row prompted the club to claim last night in a hard-hitting statement it had been "totally misled by the FAI."
Waterford FC played Cork City last night in an SSE Airtricity premier division Munster derby at the Regional Sport Centre (RSC) - with fans united about the damaging fortnight the sport has just endured.
"It is a joke - an absolute joke," Declan Whelan warned.
Declan, from Dungarvan, is a loyal Waterford FC fan and said clubs across Ireland will have been shocked by the revelations of the past fortnight.
"I just can't believe it, to be honest."
Fellow Waterford FC fans, Michael and Patrick Perdue, said ordinary fans were left bewildered by the revelations over the past two weeks.
"Of course it is damaging - I think the faith of a lot of fans has been rocked by it," Michael said.
"I think everyone who is involved in grassroots football in Ireland will have been shocked by what has happened."
"The steps on the (football) ladder which should lead to the League of Ireland desperately need funding. But then you have the revelations about the FAI finances."
Waterford fan Gary Everitt, who brought his daughter, Aleasha (9), to see the Cork derby game, said the events of the past fortnight have been a blow to loyal fans.
"It has been very disappointing," he said.
Gary has been supporting Waterford for almost 30 years - and said exciting things had been expected of the club since its revitalisation.
"You have people who put their heart and soul into the sport and ask nothing for themselves and then they have to read about these kind of things," he said.
"It is really, really disappointing for loyal football people."
Angela and Becky Power, avid Waterford fans, wondered about the message the recent controversies over FAI finances would send to ordinary football fans and volunteers.
"It is very hard to credit when you see that the sport and clubs across the country are crying out for investment," Angela said.
"It is just not right," she said.
Ironically, John Delaney's entry to the world of Irish football came via Waterford where he was on board at Waterford United from 1996.