Waterford United saw off the challenge of Longford Town to progress to the promotion play-off against Dundalk after a 3-1 aggregate win on Friday night.
Longford Town manager Tony Cousins made four changes from the first leg, as Michael Lee, Des Hope, Daniel Purdy and Austin Skelly came into the starting line-up, while Waterford United boss Paul O’Brien kept faith with the team that won 2-0 last Saturday.
Longford’s early control, possession, and succession of corners, were quickly forgotten as Waterford United took the lead after nine minutes. Peter Keegan drilled a precise low ball to the left wing to Sean Maguire. The young striker, who finished joint top of the goalscoring charts, raced toward goal and forced Craig Hyland into a good save, but Peter Higgins was on hand to keep his composure and fire low past Hyland.
Longford began to control more of the game and Noel Haverty had a good chance five minutes before half time but he couldn’t steer his header past Holden.
Paul Phelan should have put the game beyond the visitors at the start of the second half. Sean Maguire, Gary Dempsey and Peter Keegan broke clear down the right wing with Keegan supplying Phelan but he somehow missed from close range.
Seamus Long was sent for an early bath four minutes later. Referee Keith Callanan adjudged the defender to be the last man after his foul on Austin Skelly and showed Long the red card, the third time the official has sent off the defender this season.
Tony Griffiths had a great chance to get Longford back in the game but he couldn’t get a touch on Thomas Crawley’s cross.
Longford Town were rewarded for their possession on the night as Alan Kirby grabbed a late consolation. Noel Haverty crossed from the right via a deflection and Waterford-native Alan Kirby was on hand to fire past Holden from close range.
Noel Haverty had another late chance from Alan Kirby’s corner but his header went narrowly wide of the far post. Waterford now face Dundalk on Tuesday in the first leg of the play-off.
Waterford United: Packie Holden; Stephen Mulcahy (Seamus Long 11), David Breen, Craig Burns, John Frost; Peter Higgins, Peter White (Ben Ryan 70), Gary Dempsey, Paul Phelan (Jack Doherty 92); Sean Maguire, Peter Keegan.
Subs not used: Robbie Hughes, Willie John Kiely, Daragh Walshe, Dylan Mernagh.
Booked: Phelan (32).
Sent Off: Long (49).
Longford Town: Craig Hyland; Noel Haverty, Des Hope, Willo McDonagh, Michael Lee; Robert Bayly, Mark Salmon, Keith Gillespie (Alan Kirby 68), Thomas Crawley; Austin Skelly (Tony Griffiths 68), Daniel Purdy (Karl Bermingham 60).
Subs not used: Colm James, Darragh Raynor, Chris Deans, Paul Hunt.
Booked: Haverty (40), Bayly (43), Bermingham (62), Kirby (92).
Referee: Keith Callanan.
Extratime Man of the Match: Gary Dempsey (Waterford United).