Two defensive lapses in the opening six minutes cost the Déise dearly but, with the O’Gormans choosing to line out with the hurlers this year, Owens insisted his side would cope with the loss of the two inter-provincial defenders.
“They are undoubtedly a huge loss but we have to get on now and make do without them,” he said.
“There are still a lot of good players around, and while of course the O’Gorman brothers are going to be sorely missed, there is nothing I or my team management can do about that right now.
“Our two main objectives for the year will be Division 4 promotion in the national league and, with Cork and Kerry out of the way in our half of the Munster championship draw, we must set our sights on reaching the provincial final.”
It was a richly-deserved victory for the students but the six-point margin did no justice to Waterford’s second-half battling efforts. Indeed, they would have been closer at the death had Liam Ó Lionáin not uncharacteristically squandered a gilt-edged goal chance 10 minutes from time.
However they lost this game in the opening minutes when Barry O’Grady set up Mike Brennan for a peach of a goal. Just three minutes later, Alan O’Donoghue did all of the work himself before hammering the ball past goalkeeper Kieran Cotter to give the Kerry students the perfect start.
It was a double whammy from which Waterford never fully recovered although, to their credit, they put in a commendably battling second-half performance.
With Barry O’Hehir impeccably kicking points — he had six, from play, in that opening half — the students were comfortably positioned, leading 2-8 to 0-5 at the interval.
Three of those Waterford points came from the boot of a lethal Garry Hurney, and the ace forward would tack on seven more in a flawless second-half display that scarcely merited him ending on the losing side.
Waterford did manage to outscore the students in that second period, but that missed goal chance by Liam Ó Lionáin, who blazed wide of a yawing goal 10 minutes from time, will haunt them.
Scorers for IT Tralee: B O’Hare 0-7 (3fs, 1 45), A O’Donoghue 1-3, M Brennan 1-0, R Deane 0-2, B O’Grady, A Hegarty 0-1 each.
Scorers for Waterford: G Hurney 0-10 (6fs), S O’Hehir, S Briggs, L Ó Lionáin (f), G Nugent 0-1 each.
IT TRALEE: P O’Sullivan (Kerry); E Murray (Meath), J Sculley (Kerry), D Larkin (Wexford); AJ O’Connor (Cork), S Brosnan (Kerry), K Conway (Kildare); R Deane (Cork), G O’Driscoll (Kerry); S Carroll (Kerry), B O’Grady (Kerry), B Poff (Kerry); A O’Donoghue (Kerry), M Brennan (Kerry), B O’Hare (Louth).
Subs: A Hegarty (Cork) for O’Hehir (60), I Corbett (Limerick) for Poff (61), N Curran (Wicklow) for Deane (68).
WATERFORD: K Cotter; M Cummins, K Connery, T Ó Hualacháin; K Geary, S Briggs, C O’Keeffe; S Dempsey, S Hehir; C McGrath, L Ó Lionáin, P Hurney; S Fleming, G Hurney, JJ Hutchinson.
Subs: S Enright for Cotter (ht), G Nugent for Fleming (ht), J Wall for Hutchinson (56), A Brophy for O’Keeffe (59).
Referee: Kevin O’Brien (Tipperary).