Just goal difference separates Waterford and Cobh Ramblers as the SSE Airtricity League’s top two lock horns in a Munster derby at the RSC on Friday (kick-off 7.45pm)
"It’s a great win for us,” says Waterford’s central defender Gary Delaney of the Blues’ big midweek EA Sports Cup win over neighbours Wexford. “It’s always a tricky tie against Wexford FC and it was again.
“We only really put the game to bed with the three goals late in the game but it’s great to get the win and to be in the hat for the second round of the Cup.”
Scorer of league leaders Waterford’s vital second goal in the 5-0 win on Tuesday night, Delaney’s attention now switches to the biggest home game of the season to date.
"We have to look forward to the game against Cobh Ramblers on Friday night now. The crowds are just getting bigger at the RSC and hopefully they’ll get behind us again. The atmosphere that they create is amazing and it’s really driving us on.”
Waterford have the psychological advantage over Wexford this season. The Blues had earlier seen off Damien Locke’s men in the league and the EA Sports Cup victory has further upped the expectancy around Waterford.
"The buzz in the club is unbelievable,” Delaney purrs. “Everyone is buzzing, the training is so competitive and the competition for places is something else. Everyone is flying and it’s great."
Another enthusiastic reaction to Tuesday’s convincing win and the Ramblers fixture comes from youthful striker Owen Wall, who contributed two goals and set up another when introduced in the second half against Wexford.
“I’m happy that the management gave me the chance to come on in the game. They told me just to have no worries and to get at the full back so thankfully it paid off for me.”
"It’s stuff that you dream of really. To have two shots off the woodwork and to score two goals in the one game after just coming on with 20 minutes to go is just unbelievable for me. I’m over the moon with it and delighted to have gotten the chance.
"It’s all about the team and we are all rowing in behind each other now so it’s about the next game for us now and that’s the big one in the league.
“It’s a top of the table clash so early in the season and we’re been getting unbelievable crowds so we’re expecting this to be one of the biggest of the season. It should be good."
Cobh’s trip to Waterford this Friday will be Ramblers first of two such visits within two weeks as the Munster rivals have been drawn together in the second round of the EA Sports Cup.
Ramblers clinched their place in that second round by beating Munster Senior League champions Avondale United also on Tuesday night.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match Matthew Whelan gave this reaction after the ‘Dale game to the Cobh media team at St. Colman’s Park. “(We’re) delighted to get a win under our belts. That’s two wins on the trot – hopefully we can get a third one now against Waterford.”
Whelan’s decisive second half strike on Tuesday, after being set up by Ross Mann, was the first goal of the season for the ex-Ballincollig front player. “I’m delighted to finally get off the mark. It took longer than usual! I’m happy to be started now and underway.”
Ramblers bounced back from their heavy Cabinteely reverse two weeks ago to defeat UCD 1-0 last Saturday, courtesy of Ben O’Riordan’s first ever goal in the claret and blue.
Ramblers made ten changes from that UCD match but still wore down Avondale’s determined resistance. “A few players stepped up big time, particularly Cian Kingston,” is Matthew’s assessment of boss Stephen Henderson’s tinkering for the EA Sports Cup.
Whelan looks forward to the Waterford league encounter with some understatement. “I think we’re going to be slight underdogs which isn’t a bad thing.”
Stephen Henderson is pleased to have some selection headaches after the performance of some of his squad players against Avondale.
“It’s another clean sheet for the team and we go to Waterford now on the back of two decent wins over UCD and Avondale and hopefully we can take something out of Friday’s game as well.”
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea.
The sides met on four occasions last season in the SSE Airtricity League First Division. Cobh Ramblers won three of those matches and the other finished all square. The four matches produced a total of fifteen goals, with Cobh netting eleven of those.
Waterford’s last home league win against Cobh Ramblers was a 2-1 victory in October 2014. Late goals from Thomas Croke and Mark Walsh completed the Blues’ comeback after Kevin Burns had given Ramblers a first half lead.
Waterford: last five league games WWDWD
Cobh Ramblers: last five league games WDWLW
Waterford 8/15; Draw 11/4; Cobh Ramblers 9/2.
Waterford 1; Cobh Ramblers 1.
Injured: Robin Dempsey, Jake Evans.
Doubtful: Patrick McClean, Derek Daly, Sandor Puri.
Suspended: David McDaid.
Doubtful: Chris McCarthy.