Just under a thousand hardy souls braved the chill to see the men in white and blue claim a nine-point win, much to the delight of manager Tom McGlinchey.
UCC made 10 changes before the game: with an eye on their Sigerson Cup opener on Tuesday against Cork IT they didn’t risk the likes of Paul Geaney or Conor Cox, and Waterford clearly sniffed the opportunity.
They showed that with an ideal start — a Liam Lawlor delivery into the square was broken down by Patrick Hurney to Joey Veale, who goaled coolly. Headline writers would’ve preferred Michael Curry to break that ball down, of course, for a Curry-Veal(e) takeaway.
But second string team or not, UCC took over. They rattled off four points in a row, Kevin Davis’ lead score the pick on 12 minutes.Waterford rallied through Shane Aherne (free) and Michael Curry, but then the students goaled: Tom Hickey had a fine shot saved by Stephen Enright, but Conor Horgan was first to the rebound — 1-4 to 1-2 on 17 minutes.
David Harrington nudged UCC ahead before Waterford goaled again — a sweeping move appeared to have broken down near the students’ square but centre-back Maurice O’Gorman booted the loose ball to the net. Good Lawlor and Hurney scores made it 2-6 to 1-5 on the half-hour, but two late points by Tom Hickey, one a free, made it 2-6 to 1-7 at the half. The game dropped in intensity in the second-half, as did the scoring rate, but Waterford goaled again on 49 minutes — UCC keeper Padraig McCarthy dropped a ball in the square and Gavin Nugent blasted home.
A Tom Pendergast point a minute later and Waterford were 3-8 to 1-8 ahead, with the contest more or less over — the county team added a couple of late points by sub David Grey and Aherne to underline their superiority.
The students’ manager was disappointed but not heartbroken. “I was happy with our performances in this competition,” said Billy Morgan. “Though we’re disappointed not to have won I think we got what we wanted from it overall.
“With the Sigerson Cup game so close it restricted our selection and it gave us the chance to have a good look at some of the others in our squad. I thought they did well and a few of them are after holding up their hands and will be very much in our thoughts for the Sigerson game. It will make the panel stronger ahead of the CIT game.”
“UCC are a terrific team,” McGlinchey added. “I know they didn’t have some of their top players but I was talking to Billy Morgan and Kevin Murray and they wanted to try fellas because the Sigerson is obviously about seeing if they can last through games in a short period.
“They were always going to put us under pressure, but our lads withstood that. They withstood it last week as well, and the week before, and hopefully that’ll lead into next week as well.”
That reference to next week relates to Waterford’s league opener against Wicklow, which is also down for decision in Fraher Field, and even as Thomas O’Gorman came down the steps with the McGrath Cup, McGlinchey was directing his charges up to the corner of the field for a warm-down with next weekend firmly in mind.
Scorers for Waterford: S. Aherne 0-4 (three frees); M. O’Gorman, G. Nugent and J. Veale 1-0 each; P. Hurney and L. Lawlor 0-2 each; M. Curry, T. Prendergast, D. Grey and C. Phelan 0-1 each.
Scorers for UCC: C. Horgan 1-2 (two frees); D. Harrington 0-3; T. Hickey 0-2 (one free); A. Spillane and K. Davis 0-1 each.
WATERFORD: S. Enright, D. Crowley, N. Walsh, T. O’Gorman (c), T. Ó hUallachain, M. O’Gorman, R. Ó Ceallaigh, S. Aherne, T. Prendergast, M. Curry, M. O’Halloran, P. Hurney, L. Lawlor, G. Nugent, J. Veale.
Subs: C. Phelan for N. Walsh, 20; D. Grey for Veale, 51; J. Curry for Hurney, 60; B. Power for Crowley and O. Keevers for Prendergast, both 65; M. Ferncombe for M. Curry, 68.
UCC (Cork, except where stated): P. McCarthy (Rathmore, Kerry); J. Davis (Douglas), K. Fulignati (Nemo Rangers), K. Histon (Cobh); K. O’Sullivan (Kenmare, Kerry), S. White (Clonakilty), E. Dennehy (St. Finbarr’s); A. O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), A. Spillane (Templenoe, Kerry); F. O’Connor (Knocknagree), K. Davis (O’Donovan Rossa), S. Keane (Legion, Kerry); T. Hickey (Desmonds, Kerry), D. Harrington (Adrigole), C. Horgan (Nemo Rangers).
Subs: F. Courtney (Beaufort, Kerry), for Hickey, HT; K Hayes-Curtin (Douglas) for J. Davis (42); C. Hyde (Naomh Abán) for White (43); P. Scanlon (Glin, LImerick) for O’Donovan (44); P. Loram (Clonmel Commercials, Tipperary) for Harrington (50); S. Power (Clonmel Commercials, Tipperary), for Keane (60).
Referee: S. Mulvihill (Kerry).