By Simon O'Gorman at the RSC
Two goals from former Rambler Shane O’Connor set Waterford on their way to an emphatic 4-0 win over Cobh Ramblers at the RSC on Friday evening. David McDaid and Dean Walsh added further misery on the Blues’ closest rivals for the First Division title.
The first half was dominated by the home side with Waterford particularly dominant in the opening twenty minutes. Prompted by new signing Paul Keegan Waterford ensured that the play in this period went almost entirely in one direction.
Derek Daly provided the primary route forwards for the Blues, out on the left flank, with Garry Comerford and Shane O’Connor also working hard. But it was young John Martin who was the liveliest spark in the Waterford engine room, continuously offering himself as a runner in an attempt to unlock a solid Cobh rearguard.
Martin had the ball in the net after 15 minutes but the goal was disallowed as referee Damian McGraith awarded a free out for a dive by striker Davy McDaid in the buildup, a decision that incensed the home crowd.
As the game progressed Cobh came more into it earning a higher percentage of possession and dragging the play further away from their own area, but a shot over the bar from Karl Caulfield after 38 minutes was the closest they came to worrying Matt Connor in the Waterford goal.
Two minutes later the Blues had the ball in the net again, and this one too was ruled out, this time for an offside flag after McDaid had poked in a rebound after Martin hadbrought an excellent reaction save from Paul Hunt.
Any hope Ramblers had of continuing their resistance to the end of the game were dashed just five minutes after the restart when Shane O’Connor aimed a free kick at McDaid only to see the ball slip past the striker’s swinging leg as well as Paul Hunt in the Rams goal to go straight into the net.
If there was a touch of fortune to the ex-Rams opener his second, on the hour mark, was pure quality. Sean Heaney beat full back Kavanagh with some superb chest control and his cross was played back by Martin for O’Connor to drill in a low shot from ten yards.
That was pretty much game over with Cobh offering practically nothing in the way of attacking football. A third was inevitable and it came on 77 minutes. Martin was again the provider, squaring Comerford’s through ball for McDaid to apply a simple finish from close range.
Ramblers’ brightest moment came twelve minutes from time when U17 player Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh, fresh off the bench, walloped the crossbar from distance. But the last word was left to Waterford when, in added time, Shane O’Connor rolled the ball across the Cobh six-yard box for sub Dean Walsh to score the Blues’ fourth of the evening.
Waterford FC: Matt Connor; Conor Whittle, Kenny Browne (Jack Lynch 86), Patrick McClean, Sean Heaney; Shane O’Connor, John Martin (Anthony McAlavey 83), Paul Keegan, Garry Comerford, Derek Daly; David McDaid (Dean Walsh 83).
Subs Not Used: Ian McLoughlin, Robin Dempsey, Gary Delaney, Dean O’Halloran.
Booked: McDaid (15), McAlavey (85), McClean (85).
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; John Kavanagh, Chris McCarthy, James McSweeney, Anthony O’Donnell; Kyle McNamara (Beineon O’Brien-Whitmarsh 72), Karl Caulfield, Craig Donnellan, Darren Murphy, Ian Mylod (Stephen O’Leary 77); Cian Coleman.
Subs Not Used: Michael Sadys (gk), Shane Lowth, Cian Kingston, Peter Callanan, Cameron Harlson.
Booked: O’Donnell (43), C McCarthy (45).
Referee: Damian McGraith
Extratime Man of the Match: John Martin (Waterford FC)