By Tom Sheedy
Waterford will play in the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship in 2024 after seeing off the challenge of Cavan in a relegation play-off clash at Crettyard in Co Laois.
Waterford, who ended up in the play-off after losing a relegation semi-final to Tipperary in a free-taking contest, laid the foundation for victory in the opening half and led by 1-8 to 0-3 at the interval, having played against the breeze.
Cavan started well and points from Aishling Sheridan and Aisling Gilsenan in the opening eight minutes gave them an ideal start.
But they only managed one more point for the remainder of the half, an effort from Áine Smith after 19 minutes, as Waterford took control.
Kellyann Hogan kicked five excellent points off both feet in the opening half and Lauren McGregor, Kate Murray and Sadhba Hallinan also landed points.
And Waterford got a huge boost after 19 minutes when Hallinan finished a McGregor effort to the net and might had got a second goal moments later but Cavan goalkeeper Róisín McGregor did superbly to save from Hallinan.
Waterford, who outscored Cavan by 0-4 to 0-0 while they had McGregor in the bin, continued to maintain a strong lead after the restart, although Cavan rallied well with Cara McCaffrey landing four frees after Annie Deneher got them off the mark shortly after the restart.
But they never got within less than seven points of Waterford and will drop to the intermediate grade in 2024 after nine seasons in the top flight.
Bríd McMaugh came on to shoot three long-range points for Waterford in a game where nine players hit the target as they held on to their top flight status with a decisive win.
Scorers – Waterford: K Hogan 0-6, L McGregor 0-4 (0-2f), S Hallinan 1-1, B McMaugh 0-3, K Murray 0-1, A Murray 0-1, K McGrath 0-1, C Hynes 0-1, E Murray 0-1.
Cavan: C McCaffrey 0-4f, A Sheridan 0-1, A Gilsenan 0-1, A Smith 0-1, A Deneher 0-1.
Waterford: E O’Brien; H Power, L Mulcahy, A Murray; E Power, E Murray, Karen McGrath (capt.); Á O’Neill, C Murray; K Hogan, Kate McGrath, A Waring; K Murray, S Hallinan, L McGregor. Subs: B McMaugh for Waring (37), C McCarthy for O’Neill (45), C Hynes for Hallinan (56), M Comerford for McGrath (56),O Kennedy for Power (58).
Cavan: Róisin O’Reilly; C Brady, A Smith, C Charters; E Halton, N Byrd, Rebecca O’Reilly; G Faulkner, E Madden; A Deneher, A Sheridan, N Keenaghan; M Cusack, C McCaffrey, A Gilsenan. Subs: C Ahearne for Gilsenan (41), K McCormack for Madden (51), A Doughty for McCaffrey (62), G Beatty for A Sheridan (64).
Referee: David Hurson (Monaghan)Tweet