Waterford FC Under-17s produced a superb performance as they moved to the top of the Under-17 Southern Elite Division as the Blues trounced leaders Shamrock Rovers 5-1 at the RSC on Saturday afternoon.
After going a goal down inside the opening two minutes, John Furlong’s side turned on the style in a dazzling display to run out comprehensive victors to remain unbeaten and top of the division thanks to a treble from Colm Whelan and one each from Jack Larkin and Regix Madika.
It was the visitors that took the lead with only two minutes on the clock. Dean Williams sent over a cross from the left that found the head of the unmarked Adam O’Connor and he planted a header past Charlie Heffernan from eight yards.
The Blues were back on level terms in a lively opening to the contest on nine minutes when Jack Larkin took possession of a Lee Costello throw out on the left and his cross to the back post was headed back by Regix Madika for Colm Whelan to head home from close range.
In a brilliant opening to the game, the home side got their noses in front on 16 minutes when Rovers keeper Gavin Bazuna saved superbly from Whelan and when the rebound broke to the striker, his effort was tipped onto the right-hand post only for Blues skipper Jack Larkin to fire home the rebound.
Bazuna came to his sides rescue two minutes later with a quite stunning save when Larkin turned provider for Darragh Power but his cracking effort from 14 yards was magnificently tipped onto the crossbar by the visiting netminder.
A third goal did arrive for the dominant Blues on 31 minutes when a handball by Rovers midfielder Conor Behan saw Colm Whelan play a quick free kick to Regix Madika on the right-side and he hammered an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net past a helpless Gavin Bazuna.
Waterford added a stunning fourth goal three minutes before the sound of the half time whistle when Greg Waters slipped the ball into the path of Colm Whelan and he powered a cracking left-footed strike to the top left-corner of the net past a helpless Gavin Bazuna.
The second half was only two minutes old when Whelan completed his hat-trick with another brilliant goal. The Thomastown native got space down the right channel to get the better of his marker before planting an unstoppable right-footed angled effort to the back of the net.
Greg Waters had a chance to increase the Blues lead with 63 minutes gone when the midfielder got on the end of a Jack Larkin corner kick from the right but his effort was superbly blocked for a corner kick that was well defender by Adam O’Connor.
Mike Nzongong linked up superbly with Jack Larkin ten minutes from time but the attacker saw his effort on the right-side of the penalty area go inches wide before Ciaran Brennan got free on the left-side on 84 minutes however his shot was blocked out by keeper Gavin Bazuna.
Waterford keeper Charlie Heffernan made a great save to deny Shamrock Rovers their second goal two minutes later when Thomas Hannon sent in a cross from the right that found the head of Dean Williams but the Blues netminder superbly tipped the ball over.
The result means the Blues U17s move top of the Under-17 Southern Elite Division.
Waterford FC: Charlie Heffernan, Kallum Broaders (Andrew Farrell `88), Torik Adegao, Adam Conway, Lee Costello (Ciaran Brennan `62), Dean Beresford (Jack O’Donnell `76), Darragh Power (Mike Nzongong `70), Greg Waters, Colm Whelan, Jack Larkin, Regix Madika (Sean Tracey `83).
Shamrock Rovers: Gavin Bazuna, Conor Fitzharris, Adam O’Connor, Evan Smithers (Rhys Murphy `70), Dean Williams, Jordan Tallon (Jack Priestly `46), Kenny Cunningham, Conor Behan, Thomas Hannon, Dan Howlin (James Clarke `46), Lee McEntee.
Referee: Pat O’Connor, assisted by Noel Ryan and Ian O’Keeffe.