Promotion/Relegation Playoff Report: Waterford 2 - 1 Cork City

Patrick O'Connor reports from Tallaght Stadium

Waterford reached the promised land of the Premier Division when they overcame Munster rivals Cork City by 2-1 in an enthralling encounter at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.

The game was played in a cup final like atmosphere throughout, particularly in the second half and during extra time.

And the 4,032 fans in attendance were treated to an edge of the seat thriller before the Blues emerged victorious by a single goal margin.

There were very contrasting emotions at the end, with Waterford’s players being embraced by their jubilant fans while City’s players were subjected to some booing as they trooped off the pitch.

Waterford fully deserved their win as they started and finished the stronger of the two teams.

And apart for a short period after City got the opening goal, they always looked more likely to score against a team which looked like the big occasion got to them on the night.

City were unlucky however as they were forced into two unplanned substitutions in the first half and then lost key man Ruairi Keating at half time.

City’s nervousness almost gifted the Blues an opening goal, first when Conor Drinan gave a loose pass to Ronan Coughlan who blazed over the bar in the 13th minute. 

Drinan’s replacement John O’Donovan did likewise in the 44th minute, allowing Romeo Akachukwu an opportunity which was deflected away for a corner.

City had a chance of their own in the 31st minute when Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh whipped in an inviting cross but Cian Bargary fluffed the great chance when it seemed easier to score.

It was 0-0 at the break and it was certainly a good one for Waterford and a disappointing one for City, especially as Keating trooped off holding his left arm and in deep conversation with the club doctor.

He did not reappear for the second half and was replaced by Cian Murphy.

City then took the lead in the 53rd minute when Barry Coffey floated in a free kick after Coughlan had fouled Ben Worman and Cian Coleman rose highest to power a header to the net.

The lead was relatively short lived as Waterford drew level in the 68th minute.

Connor Parsons executing a superb volley from the edge of the box to make it 1-1.

There were to be no further goals in the 90 minutes and the tension was ratcheted up even more as the game was forced into 30 minutes of extra time.

The decisive moment came 10 minutes into the opening period when the ever-threatening Coughlan drew a foul from Coleman as he bared down on goal, and while it looked a bit soft, referee Damian McGrath was in no doubt and awarded Waterford a penalty.

Coughlan dusted himself down and slotted home his 37th goal of the season to make it 2-1 to Waterford.

City substitute Tunde Owolabi almost added to the drama when he hit the crossbar with a shot early in the second period of extra time. 

But that was to be their last opportunity as Waterford defended resolutely and held out for a famous victory that will be celebrated for some time down in the South East.


Waterford: Sam Sargeant, Darragh Power, Ryan Burke, Derek Osede, Giles Phillips, Rowan MacDonald (Killian Cantwell 111)), Brian Baggley (Niall O'Keeffe 113), Roland Idowu (Conor Cresswell 69), Conor Parsons (Shane Griffin 97), Roman Akachukwu (Dean McMenamy 69), Ronan Coughlan.

Subs not used: Paul Martin, Sam Perry, Harry Nevin, Chris Pattison.

Booked: Rowan MacDonald (53) Ryan Burke (88) Derek Osede (112), Darragh Power (112), Killian Cantwell (116)


Cork City: Tiernan Brooks, Josh Honahan, Jonas Hakkinen, Cian Coleman, Andrii Kravchuk (Joe O’ Brien-Whitmarsh 25), Aaron Bolger, Conor Drinan (John O Donavan 18, Jaze Kabai 106), Ben Worman, Barry Coffey (Gordon Walker 90), Cian Bargary (Tunde Owolabi 90), Ruairi Keating (Cian Murphy 46).

Subs not used: Oliver Byrne (GK); Josh Fitzpatrick, Oran Crowe.

Booked: Andrii Kravchuk (23), Cian Coleman (87), Josh Honahan (87), Jaze Kabai (117).


Referee: Damien MacGraith.

Player of the Match: Connor Parsons (Waterford)

Attendance: 4.032.