McGeough’s sense of anticipation owes everything to his experiences as a player with Waterford in the early seventies when Cork and Waterford teams were the best in the country. His own contribution to the latter’s slick teamwork in those days was immense and his current team reflects his admirable work ethic.
Cork City manager Pat Dolan is in agreement: “Jimmy is a tough man and you need toughness in football. If Waterford are to be successful again, they have got to develop their own players and he is doing that.
“Waterford were in the habit of bringing in players from Dublin, but that does not work. Their success in winning the first division was the result of their own good work and they have developed good players.”
Waterford will include midfielder Mark Clifford who played with Cobh Ramblers last season in their team. And he has helped Waterford make an immediate impression in the top division. After losing by four goals to Shelbourne on the opening day of the season they had a good run that was brought to a halt by champions Bohemians last weekend.
“We could have beaten Bohs 3-1 just as quickly as they beat us,” said McGeough. “They scored two goals late in the game and the last was a cracking goal, but, had we taken our chances, we would have beaten them.”
McGeough is in no doubt as to why his charges have done so well in recent times: “Everybody wants to prove he is good enough to play in the Premier Division and the competition for places has them all on their toes. And what is good about this match is that we are proving to be a better team away from home.”
Cork suffered their first set-back last weekend when they lost to Shamrock Rovers after a late scrambled goal. Manager Dolan believed that they would have deserved a point, but there was no disputing that Rovers played the better brand of football in the second half.
Cork’s problem was their failure to provide John O’Flynn and George O’Callaghan with a consistent service. They struggled in midfield where Greg O’Halloran alone matched Rovers.
“I thought our two full-backs (Alan Carey and Robbie Hedderman) did well and Kevin Murray impressed me in midfield. I was disappointed at the manner in which we conceded two second half goals to Rovers. So, while we were not doing a lot wrong, I do have things to consider, ” said Dolan.
Waterford have a slight doubt about Wayne Fitzgerald, with a groin injury, but both teams expect to be at full-strength. After beating St Pats and running Bohs so close, Waterford will fancy their chances and the game should be an eventful one.
Meanwhile, McGeough is awaiting clearance from America for midfielder Alberto Munoz, a native of Argentina. He was understudy to the great Colombia international Carlos Valderrama at Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile, Shelbourne will be hoping to add to their slender lead at the head of the table, but they will have to do without centre-back Jim Gannon when they face UCD at Belfield. Gannon received treatment for back and groin injuries after the draw with St Pats and he will not be risked by manager Pat Fenlon, with Tony McCarthy expected to be an obvious replacement.
UCD are still without a point and, with just one goal from 450 minutes of football, they look set to repeat last season’s experience when they battled against relegation right through.
UCD have midfielder Alan Cawley struggling with injury but Robert McAuley is ready to return following last week’s one goal defeat by Derry at the Brandywell.
Derry City are looking ahead eagerly to their huge friendly match against Barcelona at the Brandywell on Tuesday, August 12, but first manager Kevin Mahon must improve their league position. They play a full strength Bohemians at Dalymount Park with doubts about the fitness of Sean Hargan. Certain to be missing are strikers Liam Coyle and Tommy McCallion.
St Pats will have to plan without their new signing Davy Byrne when they play Drogheda United at Richmond Park. The former Shels player is taking longer than expected to overcome an ankle injury and it is feared a scan may confirm a fracture.
Better news for manager Eamonn Collins is the return of defender Ryan Casey, but he will have to wait to make late decisions on the fitness of Charles Mbabazi Livingstone and Jimi Lee Jones.
Tonight’s fixtures: Eircom League, Premier Division (7.45 pm ko): Cork City v Waterford United, Turner’s Cross; Bohemians v Derry City, Dalymount Park; UCD v Shelbourne, Belfield; St. Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United, Richmond Park.
First Division: Finn Harps v Galway United, Ballybofey 8 pm.