Two draining defeats to Antrim and London placed them rock bottom of the standings beforehand.
“For our lads, we needed this win big time,” stated Carew. “Leitrim were on top, they were unbeaten coming into today. They stayed up last night and they were expecting to beat us. We are a match for most teams when we are in the zone. They are working so hard and it’s what they deserve.”
Due to a direct clash with the Six Nations, only 245 supporters turned up. A Shane Ahearne goal, tucked away neatly to the far corner on 32 minutes, split the sides at half-time (1-6 to 0-6). They never relinquished the lead thereafter.
Leitrim pegged Waterford back to a point early in the second half. Captain Emlyn Mulligan converted seven frees but his side tallied 11 costly wides. Conor Phelan and Shane Briggs held together a defence that restricted their guests to three points from play. Waterford wrapped up the win with four unanswered points through JJ Hutchinson, Declan Allen, Shane Ahearne and Paul Whyte.
A flu virus spread through the Leitrim squad in the build-up as manager Sean Hagan explained.
“We had an epidemic of flu in the camp all week so our preparation wasn’t right for the game. Four lads on the starting team were affected. I think the best team won on the day. I have no complaints.”
Scorers for Waterford: S Ahearne 1-2 (1f); P Whyte 0-3 (3fs); D Allen, JJ Hutchinson, C Phelan 0-2 each; S Briggs, W Hutchinson 0-1 each.
Scorers for Leitrim: E Mulligan 0-7 (7fs); J Glancy, R Cox (f), S Foley, D Moran 0-1 each.
WATERFORD: T Wall; D Crowley, K Connery, T O Gorman; C O’Keeffe, S Briggs, C Phelan; W Hutchinson, P Whyte; D Allen, O Keevers, JJ Hutchinson; L Ó Lonáin, S Ahearne, N Walsh.
Subs: S Enright for Wall (15), T Grey for Walsh (41), T Ó hUallacháin for O’Keeffe (52), T Prendergast for W Hutchinson (58), B Wall for Keevers (66), J Hayden for JJ Hutchinson (70).
LEITRIM: E Lyons; B Prior, D Wyrnn, P Maguire; P Brennan, G Reynolds, W McKeon; D Sweeney, D Moran; K Conlan, D Beck, R Lowe; E Mulligan, J Glancy, R Cox.
Subs: S McWeeney for Brennan (ht), A Hickey for Beck (43), B McDonald for Cox (45), S Foley for Sweeney (47), S Moran for D Moran (58), C Egan for Conlan (67).
Referee: J Bermingham (Cork)