Waterpark celebrate promotion

ALL that was missing on a day of joyous celebration for Waterpark was the AIB League Third Division trophy.

There might have been a chance that the Waterford men could be pipped at the post for the title but it was a 100-1 shot.

Five points clear before Saturday’s final round, all ’Park needed was to pick up a bonus point from their match with Skerries to make sure.

That they did with a 49-5 rout and seven tries as Skerries fell to another heavy away victory.

But there was no sign of the trophy and Waterpark will have to wait another week for its arrival.

Still, there were no complaints from this jubilant camp as Waterpark achieved what many in the club believed impossible at the start of the year.

Under new coach, Australian John Kelsey, they have been more disciplined and their resources have been utilised to the maximum.

Skerries’s away form has been their undoing this season. Another collapse was high on the agenda once Gary Conway got in for a 28th minute Waterpark try to build on their early six point advantage.

They never looked back. Instead they stormed forward using a combination of powerful forward play and clever work from the backs to break down the Skerries defence. The visitors were just about hanging in for much of the match and the final Waterpark total could well have been more.

The star of the show yet again was captain Dave Cruickshank who scored two tries and weighed in with three conversions following the departure through injury of goal-kicker Corey Stunnel who kicked those early penalties.

Cruikshank is Waterpark’s midfield general, a clever player, a strong player and one who maximises his opportunities whilst also getting the best from the players around him.

Full back Gary Conway also scored twice and the other tries came from Mick O’Grady, Noel Power and Christy Condon, whose score late in the game was a remarkable effort considering he was no more than 30 seconds on the pitch after his return from the sin-bin.

But, even allowing for the apparent weakness of the opposition, overall this was a remarkable Waterpark triumph and an indication that they should hold their own in the higher division.

That’s all they want for now. “It is going to be a major challenge for us next season and I would be happy if we could manage to stay in or around mid-table,” said Cruickshank.

“It’s a pretty young side and one that’s growing together.”

Meanwhile, Kelsey is certain that the squad will have to be strengthened.

“We are happy with what we achieved and got out of the current squad but we will have to build on that. We were lucky this season in that we had very few injuries. We were without Dave (Cruickshank) for six or seven weeks but had already given ourselves a good start when that happened. We managed to get through without him but we certainly need three or four players in key positions, either to fill positions or act as back-up.

“Division Two is bound to be much tougher and we will have to be fully prepared for it.”

The season’s journey isn’t over yet for Waterpark, however. Next week they take on Corinthians in the semi-final of the top four competition, again at Ballinakill and it will be an opportunity for the fans to come out in force again.

“We have won our promotion but we want to win the last two matches of the season just to round it off,” said Kelsey.

Victories for Instonians and Wanderers may well have been little more than consolation prizes but the points did ensure that both go through to the top four tournament.

With just one team for the drop (Monkstown), it didn’t matter to either Naas, Skerries or Queens that they were at the wrong end of heavy defeats.

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