So far, so good for Paraic Fanning in Division 1B of the Allianz League.
From their first three outings Waterford have delivered three double-digit wins, scored 9-65 and conceded just 1-32.
Carlow got closer than Offaly and Laois (14 points) but the persistent wind and rain that swept through the Fraher Field on Saturday night also contributed to errors from the favourites. “I always felt it would be a tricky game and conditions were really difficult,” commented Fanning afterwards.
Nine goals to go along with the six league points is more than welcome by the new manager. Thomas Ryan, Stephen Bennett and Shane Bennett were the men who hit the target on this occasion.
Shane Fives, Darragh Fives, Conor Gleeson, Tadhg De Burca, Kevin Moran and Patrick Curran all sat out this game but the Ballygunner players will return to training during the week with Dublin and Galway on the horizon.
Fanning admitted to mixed emotions: “It’s great to have them back but it’s very disappointing for them that it’s not going on that little bit longer (after their club semi-final defeat to Ballyhale). They’ve had a fantastic year but they just needed a week or two to recover and get a bit of space.”
Carlow finished with 13 men after Diarmuid Byrne and Ger Coady got their marching orders in the second half. “That was disappointing because that’s not what Carlow are about,” said manager Colm Bonnar. “These lads worked so hard and made a lot of sacrifices not to put themselves under that type of pressure. We’re hugely disappointed that we ended up with 13 players. It’s not acceptable.”
Bonnar lost Martin Kavanagh, John Michael Nolan and Gary Bennett to injury. Kavanagh, who has contributed 27 points in three matches, is a worry for their last two group games, against Laois and Offaly. “It’s not looking good. Marty was holding his hamstring coming off and John Michael was holding his knee.”
The underdogs deservedly gained a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage after eight minutes but two Waterford goals turned the game in a flash. Thomas Ryan flicked home Shane Bennett’s sideline cut in the tenth minute before Shane set up brother Stephen for a second in the next attack. That made the hosts comfortable at half time (2-7 to 0-7). Kavanagh limped off on 33 minutes after shooting four points. It was curtains for Carlow once Shane Bennett found the top corner nine minutes into the second period. Top scorer Stephen Bennett nailed seven frees in total but was also off target five times
Carlow sub Diarmuid Byrne received a straight red, just seven minutes after his introduction, for a reckless pull. Chris Nolan got their first second-half score on the hour mark. John Keenan issued five yellows and two reds to the away team. Ger Coady also left the field on a second bookable offence.
After a draw against Galway, Bonnar’s men can still make the quarter-finals with Laois standing in their way on Sunday.
“Their win against Offaly puts them in the driving seat. They’re on two points and we’re on one point.
“We’ll have to up our performance big time.”
Stephen Bennett 1-8 (7fs), T Ryan 1-1, Shane Bennett 1-0, J Barron 0-2, C Dunford, DJ Foran, M Kearney, C Lyons 0-1 each.
M Kavanagh 0-4 (3fs), D Murphy (1f), E Byrne 0-2 each, R Coady, C Nolan 0-1 each.
B Nolan; S McNulty, C Prunty, N Connors; A Gleeson, M Walsh, J Henley; J Barron, C Dunford; DJ Foran, M Kearney, J Prendergast; T Ryan, Stephen Bennett, Shane Bennett.
C Lyons for Henley (49), S Ryan for T Ryan (53), M Harney for Dunford (59), S Roche for Shane Bennett (65).
D Jordan; A Corcoran, M Doyle, G Bennett; G Coady, D English, R Coady; J Kavanagh, J Murphy; JM Nolan, R Smithers, S Murphy; J Doyle, D Murphy, M Kavanagh.
E Byrne for M Kavanagh (33), Chris Nolan for JM Nolan (38), D Byrne for S Murphy (45) T Joyce for Bennett (49), S Whelan for J Murphy (53).
J Keenan (Wicklow).