Southeast bragging rights are up for grabs tomorrow night in Ferrycarrig Park as Wexford Youths take on Waterford United. David Pheasey looks at how both teams are shaping up heading into this crucial end-of-season game.
Waterford United will make the short trip across the southeast to play local rivals Wexford Youths, in the final southeast derby of the season. While the Blues only have pride to play for, the Youths will be hoping to keep their dream of promotion alive, as the battle of the southeast resumes.
The home side come into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw with league leaders Longford Town, a result that will give Shane Keegan’s men much confidence as they face a Waterford side without a win since May. Two converted penalties from, ex-United player Danny Furlong, were enough for the Ferrycarrig club take a share of the spoils from the midlands.
United travel to Wexford following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Shelbourne in the last round of games. After going two behind the Blues never stood a real chance of getting a result against the Dublin outfit, and all hope was dashed on 74 minutes when Sean Russell hit home to make it three.
As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and for United that silver lining came in the form of Mikie Rowe, as the under-19s striker struck home for his first senior Waterford goal. Since then the youngster has played two games with the Waterford U-19s, scoring an impressive five goals. I spoke with the young Wexford native, who had this to say.
“On a personal note, the goal against Shels was an amazing feeling. Despite being three goals down, I celebrated like I had just clenched the winner. That in turn set the ball rolling for my hat-rick against UCD with the under 19s. But yeah the goal was special, it gave the fans a lift. They have been fantastic the last few weeks, and we are working as hard as we can to repay them for the support.
Rowe continued, “The work is being done on the training field, and we have put in some good performances, just lacking that bit of luck, but hopefully our luck will change on Friday night. It’s a massive game, obviously for Wexford Youths in their promotion push, but it is just as important for us.”
For Shane Keegan’s troops, there is still plenty to play for as the season enters the final stages. The side once referred to as “the Blues rejects”, now lies just five points behind Galway who occupy the final promotion play-off place, having won twice as many games as their southeast counterparts. No matter what happens in the coming weeks, this has been a fantastic season for all at Ferrycarrig.
After a tough season, this new young Waterford side, have won over a large majority of the fans. Despite the results, Tommy Griffin’s men have really stepped up to the mark with some great performances. Given the fact the majority of the side will continue to play together with the Under-19 side, the Blues could have a strong side next season. If the club can attract some experienced players, next season could be an exciting prospect for those of us following those famous three ships.
“We’ve a great under 19 side this season, and have a serious chance in the league. Both the 19s and the senior sides are training together, which is brilliant. It lets younger lads to see how professional the likes of Vinny [Sullivan] and John Frost are. With Tommy Griffin in charge it also lets lads see that they can progress through the ranks.”
What adds to this derby contest is that countless players for either side have, at one time or another played for their rivals. On the blue side of the southeast, United welcomed Waterford natives Brian Nolan and Thomas Croke back into the fray, while the Youths were happy to take on the likes of Danny Furlong, Ben Ryan and Peter Higgins at the start of the season, having been deemed surplus to requirements at the RSC. The transfers add a little bit of bite, to an already, fierce encounter.
“Being from Wexford, and playing all my football in Wexford growing up, makes the game that little bit more special. Hopefully we can give the travelling fans something to shout about,” Rowe added.
One can see there being a few goals in this one. Games between these two sides so far this season have produced ten goals over the previous three encounters. The last time the sides met it was in the Regional Sports Centre and the Blues were easily dismissed by Keegan’s side as they ran out easy 3-0 winners.
It was a very different story the last time these sides met in Wexford however as Tommy Griffin’s men turned on the style against a ten man Wexford after Peter Higgins was shown red by the match official against his former club. A late Ben Ryan penalty was only a consolation for the Youths as they went down 3-1 to Tommy Griffin’s men.
Unfortunately, depending on who you support, one can’t see the Blues taking anything from this game. The Youths have too much to lose and will be well up for it, in front of a home support who have been nothing short of amazing this season. Add to this that Danny Furlong has been scoring with ease, scoring sixteen league goals already.
I’m going to say a 2-1 win in favour of the home side. Kick-off in Ferrycarrig Park, is 19:45. Enjoy the game!
David Pheasey, Pundit Arena.