Blues’ manager, Alan Reynolds, is delighted with European football but wants to finish third. Photo: Inpho.
Waterford FC have qualified for European football in 2019 after Cork City’s 2-1 FAI Cup semi-final win over Bohemians at Turner’s Cross, which meant that the Blues fourth placed finish in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division ensured Europa League football next season.
In what can only be described as an incredible season for the Blues, the dream of returning to Europe for the first time since 1986 became a reality and it’s down to the brilliant work of manager Alan Reynolds and his players, who were all celebrating at training on Tuesday morning last.
Speaking on reaching Europe, the Blues boss said, “We are absolutely thrilled. It’s fantastic for us all. Watching Cork City playing Bohemians was a nervy experience because there was nothing we could do about what was happening in Turner’s Cross.
“I thought Cork were comfortable for long periods and then the Bohs player scored a great goal so yes it was a nervy ending but it’s fantastic for us all. I suppose to come up from the First Division our aim was to stay in the Premier League but we started so well and it would be fair to say we have over achieved in our first season in the top league.”
“The work that has been put in by the staff, the players and the ground staff at the RSC has been wonderful and it’s all down to hard work. I played my first game for the club on December 1st, 1991 when Alfie Hale gave me a chance as a 16 or 17-year-old and I was delighted to get the chance.
“Alfie will always be a legend in my eyes. The last time Waterford played in Europe, he was manager and I was at the game. My late dad Ronnie used to bring me in to Kilcohan Park to watch the team playing so that is something I talk to the players about, the history of the club. It means a lot to me.
“It’s hard when you are from the city and county and you know so many people and maybe down through the years you may have had run-ins with fellas playing football but when you reach a target like this it makes everything worthwhile.
“Without Lee Power there probably would be no club here and that is the reality of the situation. We identified players and went to Lee to see what is in the budget. Some people are under the impression that our budget is really big but it’s not. It’s probably the fifth or sixth highest in the league so that’s what we do. We go to him and he either gives us the go-ahead or not.
“I mean I have guys like Franny Rockett, Noel Hunt and Paul Cashin here as coached who are absolutely outstanding and they work incredibly hard and it means everything to them when we win a match on a Friday night. The same goes for Dirk Heinen and Michael O’Sullivan. I could go on and on to be honest.”
“There are so many fine players and characters in the squad and it is without doubt as good as a dressing room that I have seen in the game. The camaraderie between them is extraordinary and that fact has been tested at times this season and when we hit bad times the players came back stronger.
“We’re ready for the ups and downs because we had planned for those blips along the way so all of the credit has to go to the players. The fans this season have been amazing and if I am to be honest the players just cannot believe it.
“There may be 2,000 or 3,000 people here on any given night and the noise they make is extraordinary and they have lit a fire in the city and county especially for the younger generation. We try and entertain them and we do our best to try play exciting football when we possibly can.
“It’s hard I suppose to take it all in right now. Yes, we’re are here today with the players. Sometimes I feel like strangling them but today all I want to do is hug them all. They have been amazing and this is a fantastic achievement from all of them.”