League of Ireland First Division: Waterford United v Cobh Ramblers

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

– WH Auden, Funeral Blues

We took our seats, just before kick-off in the noisy and boisterous Block E of the Old Stand in Waterford’s Regional Sports Centre – with two wins on the trot, there was reason to be hopeful that Waterford United’s poor start to the 2013 season was about to change. By the end of the game, we were left with more questions than answers.

The noise in Block E was well-matched by the surprisingly strong Cobh support, who roared with enthusiasm “shoes off for the Ramblers”, and well they might have sung in the first half as neither team really got a grip on the game, but Waterford looked especially to be without ideas – it was surely the least creative forty-five minutes of football played  by a team in the Waterford blue in years. The goalkeeper, Craig Hyland, saw far too much of the ball, a sure sign of a lack of confidence going forward for the Blues. The only significant thing to really happen in that first half was the sending off of Brian Fitzgerald, in an incident that had the linesman waving furiously, but we missed the incident completely and I still have no idea what happened.

It was a good thing too as it seemed to give Waterford United the kick they needed; this though is a dangerous sign – if it takes a sending off, or any bit of freak good luck to give a team the confidence to carry the ball forward onto the wings and attack (as they did in the second half), then there is a serious underlying issue for Waterford United – the confidence of the players in their own ability to get on the ball and get forward for one seems to be lacking and it was painfully obvious that the creative spark provided by Sean Maguire last season is now utterly lacking in the squad. Though we have only reached the end of the first round of games in the League this year, it is hard to see, based on this performance, Waterford United getting up out of the First Division this season – last season was perhaps their best chance to make it out, but on balance it is difficult to see the Blues making their way up the admittedly very tight table unless they produce better performances than that against Cobh Ramblers on Friday night. We took our seats, just before kick-off in the noisy and boisterous Block E of the Old Stand in Waterford’s Regional Sports Centre – with two wins on the trot, there was reason to be hopeful that Waterford United’s poor start to the 2013 season was about to change. The game was a funeral blues, really a dirge, a lament, but also unpleasant – a poor game of football – difficult to look at: not just because so little happened, because it was painfully obvious the lack of quality to be found in the team on this occasion. Never has a game so early in the season felt so funereal.

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