By Peter Nolan
Waterford’s senior hurlers put two valuable points in the bank at the expense of a hardworking but overmatched Offaly side Sunday at Gaelic Park.
It was all one-way traffic at the start in the direction of the Offaly goal. Victor O’Shea banged over back-to-back 70s to open the scoring and put Waterford up a brace. The rangy center back remained stateside along with Waterford county mates Fran Halpin and Sean Daly, while Offaly went to the shuttle for Colm Cassidy and Joe Wynn, both from the Faithful County. Aiden Sweeney booted a ball to the back of the net and when Halpin followed up with a point it looked like a Waterford route was on.
But Offaly stiffened. Joe Wynn snapped up a breaking ball and pointed to take the blank from the Offaly side of the scoreboard. Wynn added a 70 and another free to get Offaly back in touch. The exchanges were tight and Colm Cassidy was doing a great job in closing down the Waterford dangerman Sean Daly.
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Heavy rains had left the pitch slick and sodden, but both sets of players soldiered on. Daly pointed a free he had earned himself, to stretch Waterford’s lead to 1-5 to 0-3. The Deices were getting most of the possession with Jamie Dugan and Fran Halpin holding the upper hand at midfield, with a big assist for center back O’Shea.
Offaly brought Wynn out to the middle of the park and sent substitute Brendan Moran in to corner forward, but the Offaly attack never really clicked. Wynn pointed a free just before halftime, closing to with 1-5 to 0-4 with 30 minutes to play.
The second half started much like the first, with Waterford fast out of the gate. New York panelist Roy Henley opened with a well-struck point, sparking a six-point Waterford run.
Halpin’s score was the standout in the dominant Waterford sequence. The Waterford midfielder picked up a loose ball in his own defensive end and took off on a 60-yard jaunt before firing over a fine point. A Daly free (all of Daly’s scores were frees) stretched Waterford’s margin to eight: 1-11 to 0-6.
Offaly, of course, just kept coming. Substitute Nigel Carney sent a shot goalward from about 70 yards and the sliothar some how found the back of the net. Now Offaly were down by five points but the clock was ticking. Waterford kept their heads and aided by another Daly free, had plenty of room to spare at the end.
Man of the match: Victor O’Shea.
Waterford: Jim Duggan Stuart Barry, John Prendergast, Thomas Maher, Victor O’Shea (0-2), Tom Bermingham, Jamie Duggan, Fran Halpin (0-3), Rory Hussey, Jason Barry, Roy Henley (0-2), Sean Daly (0-5), Aiden Sweeney (1-0).
Offaly: Paddy Donaghue, Colm Cassidy, Mike Dolan, John Hanlon, Enda Condren, Ed Flynn, Tony Coughlan, Eamon Coleman, Pa Tracy, Sean Nolan (0-1), Dan Coughlan, Joe Wynn (0-5), Kevin Delany. Sub: Nigel Carney (1-0), John Moran.