Waterford IT Futsal team celebrate after claiming a third Colleges and Universities National Futsal Cup in a row after a narrow 1-0 victory over IT Blanchardstown in the decider played in the WIT Arena : Photo Maurice Hennebry.
After suffering a leg injury for his club Villa against Ferrybank last month, Niall McCabe proved to be the hero for WIT in their crunch final meeting with IT Blanchardstown as they landed a third FAI Futsal title in a row at the WIT Arena this week.
This third success was a hard earned one as the holders had to survive a first-half penalty miss by Jamie Hollywood for Blanchardstown before Niall McCabe struck to grab the vital score in the closing minutes.
As a result of the competition, WIT and IT Blanchardstown will now go forward into the semi-final draw for the FAI Futsal Cup where the ultimate winners will represent the Republic of Ireland in the UEFA Futsal Cup.
While the local college will also have the option of entering the European Universities Futsal Cup finals.
Waterford had to work hard in the five team round robin games before managing to reach another final and at one stage they looked like they might miss out to surprise packets DIT.
In their first game of the tournament against Cork IT, goals from Ferrybank’s Ben Duffy and striker Niall McCabe got the home side off to a comfortable win over their opponents from Leeside that set them up nicely for the next game.
After successive draws against DIT (0-0) and IT Sligo (2-2) it was a case of valuable points dropped for WIT, while IT Blanchardstown who became pool leaders after getting off to an impressive start with two wins a draw.
It was Tramore AFC midfielder Cormac Breslin that kept Waterford in contention for a top two finish and he also secured a place in the decider when he netted a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw against IT Blanchardstown who went on to top the pool.
Waterford’s place in the final was eventually confirmed when DIT, needing at least a 2-0 win, could only draw 1-1 with IT Sligo in their final game and this result ensured that Paul O’Brien’s side had a chance of recording a three-in-a-row success.
The final proved to be a tight affair with former Waterford United full back Dean Reidy and Cormac Breslin just off target with first half chances before IT Blanchardstown were awarded a penalty by referee Darren Coombes but the Dublin outfit failed to hit the target as they struck the crossbar.
As the hosts continued to control the majority of the second half, skipper Ian Sinnott blasted two free kicks wide and Shane Nolan saw his short well saved by Ian Molloy before the winner arrived when Cormac Breslin broke from defence to set up Niall McCabe who slotted a low drive past Molloy.
WATERFORD IT: Mathew Connor, Ian Sinnott, Ben Duffy, Cormac Breslin, Shane Nolan, Fawza Ishola, Dean Reidy, Graham Byrne, Niall McCabe, Craig Dunphy. Head Coach Paul O’Brien.
IT BLANCHARDSTOWN: Marcin Kowalczyk, Ian Molloy, Karl Byrne, Daniel O’Donovan, Aaron Brazil, Dylan Byrne, Adam Clarke, Jamie Hollywood, Curtis Durnein, Steven Ball. Head Coach Coach Jamie Moore. Assistant Coach Conor Parnell.
Referee: Darren Coombes assisted by Gerry Behan and Alan Patchell.