“There was a bit of expectation after winning the McGrath Cup but I think the boys coped with it admirably,” observed manager Tom McGlinchey after his side took care of Wicklow with a confident second-half showing.
“We scored 14 points and we had seven different scorers so it was a nice way to start the league.”
McGlinchey hit the reset button beforehand to concentrate minds on promotion. “We took the McGrath Cup as a standalone competition. To get the four competitive games and to win it was absolutely fantastic. We parked it and looked at the league as a new challenge totally. At times tonight, we played good football. I think the crowd here really got behind them and they got some good scores.”
The spread of scorers reflects positively on Waterford’s expressive brand of play. League debutant Michael O’Halloran beamed brightest with four points from play, including a couple of booming second-half efforts.
The sides were tied five times during an entertaining first half, with Conor McGraynor, Dean Odlum and John McGrath all threatening for Wicklow.
But as the visitors’ challenge fizzled out, Waterford broke loose towards the tail-end.
Even when Liam Lawlor limped out of the fray with a dead leg on 27 minutes, the Déise never blinked.
The Ballinacourty pair of Michael O’Halloran and Patrick Hurney sent over two each and Shane Ahearne claimed three frees as they squeezed 0-9 to 0-7 ahead.
With the breeze behind them, Waterford asserted their authority with five uninterrupted points. Tadhg Ó hUallacháin punched over and then created a goal chance for Michael Curry but the Rathgormack man struck the woodwork.
O’Halloran’s third from 40 metres out started to turn the screw.
It was one-way traffic and further points from Mark Ferncombe, Ahearne and O’Halloran opened up an unassailable seven-point lead. Wicklow substitute Seanie Furlong had a penalty claim turned down and their woes were compounded by a black card for Ross O’Brien.
They didn’t land a blow for 31 minutes before a late flood of consolation points.
After five home wins on the spin, a trip to Tullamore poses the next test for McGlinchey’s side.
Scorers for Waterford: M O’Halloran, S Ahearne (4fs) 0-4 each; P Hurney 0-2; T Ó hUallacháin, M Ferncombe, L Lawlor, G Nugent 0-1 each.
Scorers for Wicklow: D Odlum 0-4 (2fs); J McGrath 0-3 (2fs); C McGraynor 0-2 (2fs); T Kelly 0-1.
WATERFORD: S Enright; D Crowley, R Ó Ceallaigh, T O’Gorman; T Ó hUallacháin, M O’Gorman, C Phelan; S Ahearne, T Prendergast; M Curry, M O’Halloran, P Hurney; L Lawlor, J Veale, G Nugent.
Subs: M Ferncombe for Lawlor (27); L Ó Corraoin for Veale (43); P Whyte for Nugent (50); S Prendergast for Phelan (58); O Keevers for Curry (62); D Grey for T O’Gorman (73).
WICKLOW: R Lambert; A Murphy, P Cunningham, A Byrne; D Healy, S Kelly, R O’Brien; P McLoughlin, A McLoughlin; D Woods, J McGrath, D Hayden; D Odlum, C McGraynor, T Kelly.
Subs: S Furlong for Kelly (H-T); M McLoughlin for Woods (43); M Kenny for McGrath (48); C Murphy for Byrne (52); P McWalter for O’Brien (BC, 58).
Referee: M Collins (Cork)