By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
Waterford FC begin their Scottish Challenge Cup, or to give it its full title, the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup campaign on Friday night as they host Hearts Colts – the Under 21’s – at the RSC.
The Blues are coming into the game on the back of a Munster Derby victory over Cork City in Turners Cross on Monday night, a game which saw them come from a goal down with just eight minutes remaining to win 2-1.
Hearts Colts, who include former Shelbourne and St Patrick’s Athletic youngster Aidan Keena in their travelling squad have been in good form themselves of late, winning their last four games 3-1. They dispatched both Albion Rovers and Cowdenbeath in this competition, with Keena scoring 3 goals in the two games.
Colts manager Andy Kirk knows the importance of the competition for his young players, “I think the cup has been good for us. The results in the league aren’t the foremost, it’s the performances and the development of the players that get to the first team.”
“Every week we go out, we set up try and win the game and think how can we change the game and how can the players affect it to try and win because I think it’s important to develop that winning mentality as well.”
“The cup is slightly different. You need to win to progress, we knew that last year with the Reserve Cup. That’s how we set out, the focus was on winning the games. We’ve carried that form on and hopefully it can go again for us.”
MATCH TICKETS ON SALE | A reminder that tickets for Friday's clash with Hearts Colts and Monday's FAI Cup quarter final against @DundalkFC are on sale on our website now: https://t.co/Qp0A3XwY04 pic.twitter.com/jmkCF01Man
— Waterford FC (@WaterfordFCie) September 3, 2019
Waterford boss Alan Reynolds will include many of the clubs Under 19’s in his squad for the game also, however he will be without both John Kavanagh and Dean Walsh, who are ruled out through injury.
Reynolds said, “You don’t get to see matches like this very often and there’s been a nice buzz about the game since the draw was made. No doubt Hearts manager Andy Kirk will have his side well prepared and they’ll be looking to do well after getting through two rounds already.”
“It’s a competition that offers the players, the fans and the club something different. It’s come at a very busy time for us but we’re looking forward to playing in it. Neither team will know too much about the other so it should make for an interesting battle.”
“Hearts will be a young side but we’re a young side too and I’m delighted to be able to showcase the young, talented players that we have at Waterford FC.”