The Waterford Hockey Club men’s team who took on UCC in Sunday’s McClean Cup Final in Cork.
Waterford Men’s second team succumbed in Sundays final at Garyduff to UCC in very competitive final. The final score of 3-1 to the students possibly didn’t reflect the tightness of the game. Waterford, fielding a second team for the first time in a generation was a mix of youth and experience. This was reflected in the rather unique fielding of three father son combinations with Ger and Ben McInerney, Marcel and Cameron Wagenaar and Daniel and Marco Laura.
Waterford, managed by Stuart Greene had set themselves up in a 4:4:2 formation in order to counter the students advantage in terms of pace an mobility. This approach worked really well as the students became increasing frustrated in their attempts to break down the Waterford defence where Rory Tracy and Marco Laura worked tirelessly alongside Marcel Wagenaar and Chris Thomas to keep the students out. Waterford, playing some clever hockey almost snatched an opening goal when a rasping shot from Killian O’Reilly went narrowly wide, having been set up by incisive counter attacking from Ben McInerney. However, the favourites UCC took control in a five minute period just before half time when the scored three rapid goals, the third of which was rather fortuitous and on another day would have been ruled out for dangerous play. At half time the portents were rather ominous however Waterford managed to regroup and played with a significantly greater intensity in the second period. With young goalkeeper Luka Sweeney bravely keeping out the sporadic UCC attacks. Captain John Byrne along with fellow veteran Ger McInerney inspired their teammates forward with a series of robust challenges as the students seemed to loose confidence as the game went on. UCC, sensing the tide had turned adopted a more cautious approach that enabled the Deise’s oversees stars Job Baan and Brad Rahuana to impose their will on the game. Wave upon wave of attacks resulted in Waterford earning numerous short corners and half chances which they just couldn’t convert.
Rising star Ben Mcinerney embarked on some mazy runs which caused havoc in the UCC defence, and the resulting ill discipline saw one of their players carded for a rather cynical foul as Waterford pressed forward. However, despite the efforts of youngsters Niall Kissane, Evan Sullivan and the ever-industrious Cameron Wagenaar, the Deise team were unable to grab the goal which may have turned the game. However, Waterford were not to be denied a late consolation, Stephen Pimm and Daniel Laura helped Waterford regain possession and helped set up Waterfords’ final burst of short three short corners in the dying minutes. Eventually, Job Bann, with arguably the goal of the game converted a short corner with the last shot of the match which was, on reflection, scant reward for the second half efforts of the Deise team. However, the future looks bright for Deise hockey, as it’s the second team is now the ideal nursery for its rising talent as the seek to bridge the gap between junior and adult hockey.