Season 4 – Waterford United, League of Ireland First Division
We were predicted to finish fourth, but once the season got going we were nearly never really in contention for promotion. Almost the entirety of the season was spent in sixth place, with the teams below us far enough behind to not be a worry.
We ended the season on an unbeaten run of twelve matches, with a final day win over champions Shelbourne seeing us move ahead of Wexford and Drog-fucking-heda United to finish in fourth place, four points behind eventual play-off winners Cork City.
In the cups, we lost to Cork City 2-0 in the semi-final of the League Cup and were knocked out of the FAI Cup in the third round in a replay against Sligo Rovers.
We retook the Munster Senior Cup by thrashing Cobh Ramblers in the final, the highlight though was getting a late 1-0 victory in the semi-final of that competition away to Cork City having played with ten men for seventy-four minutes.
1st Shelbourne W 20 D 8 L 5 F 70 Ag 33 GD +37 Pts 68
2nd Athlone Town W 20 D 4 L 9 F 53 Ag 25 GD +28 Pts 64
3rd Cork City W18 D 8 L 7 F 54 Ag 30 GD +24 Pts 62
4th Waterford Utd W 17 D 7 L 9 F 56 Ag 44 GD +12 Pts 58
5th Wexford Youths W 16 D 9 L 8 F 47 Ag 39 GD +8 Pts 57
FAI Cup – 3nd round, Sligo Rovers 2-2 (H) replay 0-1 (A)
LoI Cup – Semi-final, Cork City, 0-2 (H)
Munster Senior Cup – Winners, Cobh Ramblers, 5-0
Season 5 – Waterford United, League of Ireland First Division
Having gone close over the last couple of season, I was determined to make this our year. We got off to a poor start though and after seven games had lost three times.
In previous seasons the champions had lost at most seven matches, any title aspirations were therefore quickly out of the window. Having won the three league matches in which we hadn’t been defeated though meant that all hope of promotion wasn’t lost.
Around a third through the season St. Patrick’s Athletic parted with their manager. At that point it seemed we may not make the play-off and when the media asked I said I’d be interested in the job, particularly as whilst St. Pat’s were sitting in eleventh in the table, they are one of Ireland’s bigger clubs so it was tempting.
A month of so later I was offered the job, with Waterford’s form having picked up and the St. Pat’s board unwilling to meet my negations I rejected the offer.
As with previous seasons we got better as the season wore on. The Munster Senior Cup was retained with a 1-0 victory over Cork. Shortly after that we fell to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Drog-fucking-heda, which could have demolished confidence. After it though we won ten of the remaining thirteen league games, including five wins in a row to finish the season.
That run saw us rise into the playoff towards the back end of the season, and into second place on the final day.
Finishing as runners-up gave us home advantage for the playoff and in front of a record crowd of 4,413 we put Longford Town to the sword to the tune of 3-0. After ten minutes we were already leading 2-0 and it was 3-0 after eighteen minutes to finish the match off early on.
Winning that meant that we played a two legged playoff against the losers of the playoff between the eight and ninth placed Premier Division teams. The losers of that were Galway United.
The first leg was a comfortable 2-0 away win. A goal just before half-time in the home leg then all but confirmed promotion. Galway did claim a consolation early in the second-half, but a sending off around the hour mark killed off any chances of a comeback for them and sealed promotion for us.
To add to our success I was awarded the division’s manager of the year award (though a certain man with a long throw came third having taken Drog-fucking-heda to seventh place, having been predicted third, so make of it what you will).
Our left-winger ex-Stockport target was the division’s player of the year whilst our ex-Aberdeen striker (who despite being only a couple of goals off being the club’s record scorer still manages to surprise the media by being our top scorer each season) missed out on the bronze boot by virtue of having played more games than the winner.
Our former Ipswich youth right-winger was young player of the year, and two Waterford players were named in the team of the year.
1st Bray Wanderers W 19 D 7 L 7 F 57 Ag 30 GD +27 Pts 64
2nd Waterford United W 19 D 4 L 10 F 59 Ag 41 GD +18 Pts 61
3rd Longford Town W 17 D 7 L 9 F 58 Ag 46 GD +12 Pts 58
4th Wexford Youths W 15 D 8 L 10 F 41 Ag 35 GD +6 Pts 53
FAI Cup – Quarter-final, Bray Wanderers 0-1 (H)
LoI Cup – 2nd round, St. Patrick’s Athletic, 1-3 (A)
Munster Senior Cup – Winners, Cork City, 1-0