Waterford United continued their push for promotion with a 5-0 win at home to basement team Salthill Devon on Friday night.
Goals from Kevin O'Connor, Conor Meade, Paul Quilty, Philip Drohan and Vinny Sullivan saw The Blues run out confortable winners in the RSC.
Waterford United were without Dylan Mernagh and Ben Ryan which saw Kevin O'Connor drop to left-back. Robbie McLarney started in midfield with Conor Meade partnering Paul Quilty up front.
The away side made four changes from their last match. Evan Preston Kelly, Alex Byrne, Shane O'Rourke and Craig Harding all came into the team with Brian Geraghty, Timmy Molloy, Ryan Ludden and Ronan Conlon dropping out.
The home side struck the opening goal in spectacular fashion after just five minutes. Conor Whittle swept the ball from right to left to find left back Kevin O’Connor. The youngster’s burst toward goal created space to fire an unstoppable drive into the top corner of James Keane’s goal for the opener.
Craig Harding had a chance to level the scores a minute later but he couldn’t get his header on target after Brian Gaffney’s pinpoint corner kick.
Philip Drohan began to trouble the Devon defence and saw a good chance wasted as his right footed effort rose over the far post of Keane’s goal before a slip from Paul Quilty, after more good work from Drohan, saw another good chance wasted.
Oscar Sibanda had another Devon chance on the half hour but he shot straight at Blues keeper Craig Hyland.
Conor Meade almost doubled the lead four minutes before half time. Meade was fouled on the edge of the box and he struck a powerful free kick that forced Keane to make a strong reaction save.
Salthill Devon’s task to get back into the game was struck a blow two minutes before half time as they were reduced to ten men. Willie Enubele caught Peter White late after the midfielder had released the ball, and referee Rhona Daly pulled out a straight red card for the Devon midfielder.
Eight minutes after the break Conor Meade finally got on the scoresheet. Meade was pulled back in the penalty area by Evan Preston Kelly and the striker fired the ball into the back of the net from 12-yards.
The second half was a poor affair at times with both teams struggling to put together some good play from their possession. But it was the home side that continued to press and made it 3-0 after 67 minutes.
Vinny Sullivan found Meade inside the penalty area, he made space with a smart dummy before finding Paul Quilty who rolled the ball past Keane for a third goal.
A flurry of five substitutions prevented the game from properly getting going again but the home side added a fourth in the 88th minute. Peter White’s sublime through ball set Drohan away and he made no mistake from 16 yards.
Stoppage time saw veteran League of Ireland striker Vinny Sullivan get on the scoresheet with a goal of real quality. Drohan fired the ball across the penalty area from the left for Sullivan to power a stunning first-time volley past Keane to end the rout.
Waterford United travel to Cobh on the last day of the season with a place in the play-offs still not guaranteed. An away win would ensure a play-off against Mervue United or Longford Town. Salthill Devon finish their season with a home tie against Finn Harps.
Waterford United: Craig Hyland; Conor Whittle (Francis Rockett 74), Gavin Kavanagh, Paddy Barrett (Patrick Fitzgerald 64), Kevin O'Connor; Vinny Sullivan, Peter White, Robbie McLarney, Philip Drohan; Conor Meade, Paul Quilty (Marco Chindea 75).
Subs not used: Danny Furlong, Peter Higgins, Conor Coad, Chip Sanders.
Booked: Philip Drohan (45+1)
Salthill Devon: James Keane, Colm Horgan, Robbie Gaul, Alex Byrne, Evan Preston Kelly (Ronan Conlon 70); Shane O’Rourke (Dan Cummingham 70) Willie Enubele, Michael Harty, Craig Harding (Ryan Ludden 79), Brian Gaffney; Oscar Sibanda.
Subs not used: Cian Fadden.
Sent off: Willie Enubele (43)
Referee: Rhona Daly
Man of the Match: Philip Drohan (Waterford United).