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Waterford entered the League of Ireland for the first time in the 1930/31 season and dropped out of the competition in 1934. The club re-entered the league for the 1935/36 campaign and won the League of Ireland Shield. The following season, Waterford won the FAI Cup for the first time, defeating St. James’s Gate in the 1937 showpiece. Subsequent seasons saw the club compete at the top end of the League of Ireland table, finishing as runners-up in 1937/38 and 1940/41. In the latter season, Waterford were tied on points with Cork United with a play-off needed to decide the winner, however the Suirside club were unable to compete due to a dispute between the players and the club over payments. The club resigned from the league following the turmoil and were elected to the League of Ireland again for the 1944/45 season.

The golden age of Waterford soccer took place in the late 60s and early 70s, winning 6 League of Ireland titles in 8 seasons. League success gained the club entry to the European Cup and they played ties against Manchester United and Glasgow Celtic. During the period, the club was not able to add to its solitary FAI Cup success with the late Milo Corcoran (former President of the Football Association of Ireland) noting ‘many will remember the years in which they won the League with apparent ease, only to be frustratingly thwarted in their heroic efforts to land the prized Blue Riband.’ Notable players to have lined-out for the Blues between their first league win in 1966 to its last in 1973 were goalkeeper Peter Thomas, Peter Bryan, Jimmy McGeough, Johnny Matthews and Alfie Hale. The club reached the FAI Cup final with this group of players in 1968 (beaten 3-nil by Shamrock Rovers).

Waterford next reached the cup final in 1972, losing 3-nil to Cork Hibernians with Miah Dennehy scoring a hat-trick (the first man to score three goals in the final). Seven years later, the Blues were again runners-up, defeated by Dundalk on a score-line of 2 goals to nil.

In 1980, Waterford won the FAI Cup for the second time with Brian Gardner scoring the winning goal against St. Patrick’s Athletic. Two years later the club changed its name to Waterford United. The introduction of a two division/tier League of Ireland in 1985/86 saw the club reach the FAI Cup final again in 1986 but lost to Shamrock Rovers 2-0.

The Blues were relegated to the First Division in 1988/89. The rest of the 20th century saw the club yo-yo from the Premier to the First Division with Waterford United suffering relegation in 1991, 1993 and 2000. The club achieved promotion to the top division in 1992 (finishing as runners-up to Limerick in the First Division); 1998 (by winning the First Division) and in 2002/03 under the managerial reign of former player Jimmy McGeough.

The League of Ireland changed to a summer league for the 2003 campaign with Waterford finishing the season in 6th place. The 2004 season saw former Republic of Ireland international Paul McGrath appointed Director of Football and Alan Reynolds as player-manager. The club finished 5th and reached its first FAI Cup final since 1986.

Reynolds in an interview with journalist Peter Byrne spoke of his team “When it comes to taking the ball down and knocking it about, we’re never likely to set the world alight. But in terms of hard work and commitment, we’ll stand comparison with any team in this part of the world.”

The 2004 road to the final in Lansdowne Road saw the Blues defeat Sligo Rovers 2-1, beat local rival Kilkenny City 7-2 and overcome Rockmount of Cork after a replay in the quarter-final. The latter game saw Pat Keane, brother of former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane, play in the fixture. Brendan McKenna writes of the tie with Rockmount that it “was the nearest Waterford came to being denied their place in…[the] final and a measure of the challenge they will carry for holders

Longford can be seen from the fact that, following that replay victory over Rockmount, they went to the Brandywell and beat Derry City 2-1 [in the semi-final].”

In front of a 9,676 crowd at Lansdowne Road, Waterford United took the lead through striker Willie Bruton after 62 minutes. The Blues were to regret several spurned chances when Waterford-native Alan Kirby equalised for Longford Town on 86 minutes. However, the goal was scored in rather contentious circumstances. Longford had a throw-in down the right-hand side of the Waterford defence. The resulting re-start of the game saw two balls enter the field of play at the same time. This led to some confusion and allowed Kirby the space to score the equaliser. Captain John Frost in a retrospective interview of the game with RTE programme Monday Night Soccer stated ‘I think the referee saw it and just continued on with the game, and they got the equaliser. I don’t hold any punches with that, I am bitter about it.’

Though the Longford Leader noted ‘a replay looked a certainty at this late stage [sic] but stunned Waterford were almost on the verge of collapse’. Two minutes since Longford drew level, Paul Keegan scored his first goal for the club and what would prove to be the winner. Frost concludes of the game that it’s ‘still very hard to take. If it happened to myself, I would have taken it. I would have loved it. But I would have loved on that day for the game to be played by the rules.’ Longford Town had achieved the remarkable feat of back-to-back FAI Cup titles.

Waterford’s wait for FAI Cup success continues. The club had some difficult seasons from being relegated from the Premier Division in 2007 and finally gained promotion back to the top flight in 2017. The same year the club reverted to the name Waterford FC.

Waterford Treasures acquired the 2004 FAI Cup runners-up medal in 2019 and forms part of the institutions extensive collection of artifacts recalling the city’s sporting traditions.

Some of the notable players from the 2004 final include:


Dan Connor (goalkeeper) who previously played for St. Joseph’s Boys (Dublin) and Peterborough United before joining Waterford United in April 2003. He received international caps at underage level for the Republic of Ireland at under-15, under-16 and under-21. Connor scored the winning penalty against Derry City in the FAI Cup semi-final. He joined Drogheda United in 2005 winning the FAI Cup the same year. This would be followed by Setanta Sports Cup success in 2006 & 2007 as well as a League of Ireland winners medal (2007). This was followed by spells with Cork City and St. Patrick’s Athletic in Ireland to Hereford United in England. Connor’s coaching career began with Hereford in 2012 followed by Westfields, Shrewsbury Town (Head of Academy Goalkeeping) and Wigan Athletic where he went from underage goalkeeping coaching to senior goalkeeping coach. In 2019, he was appointed goalkeeping coach with the Republic of Ireland under-21 team managed by Stephen Kenny.

· John Frost (Defender) began his football career at Tramore before making his debut for Waterford United against Shamrock Rovers in 1997. Winning two First Division titles with the Blues, Frost was a part of the Republic of Ireland squad that achieved a bronze medal at the Under-18 European Championships (beating Greece 1-nil in the third-place play-off). The left-back had spells with St. Patrick’s Athletic and Sporting Fingal, winning a FAI Cup with the latter in 2009. He returned to Waterford United in 2012 (after a brief period with Limerick). Since retiring from playing he has gone into coaching, forming part of the Waterford FC coaching staff for their 2017 First Division title success.

· Alan Reynolds (player-manager) had three spells playing for Waterford United over the course of his career. His second period with the club was as player-manager bringing them to the 2004 FAI Cup decider. Other clubs that he played for in the League of Ireland include Longford Town, Cork City, Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne whom he won the League of Ireland with in 2006. He has had coaching roles with Derry City, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Cork City before returning to manage Waterford for a second-time in 2017.

· Jose Quitongo (Midfield/Winger) the Angolan native had two spells with the Suirside club. He first joined the Blues in 1994 from Benfica of Lisbon, Portugal. Quitongo then had spells with various clubs in Scotland, most notably with Hearts when they defeated Glasgow Rangers in the 1998 Scottish Cup final. The winger re-joined Waterford United half-way through the 2004 season. A nomadic playing career has seen Quitongo play for numerous clubs in Scotland and Pro Lissone in Italy.


Daryl Murphy’s (Striker) football career began with local club Southend United where he secured a move to Luton Town at the turn of the millennium. In 2002 he joined Waterford United in the League of Ireland achieving promotion back to the Premier Division at the end of that season. An integral part of the Blues successful 2004 campaign, Murphy was awarded the PFAI Young Player of the Year award. He returned to England in 2005 with Sunderland and in the subsequent years has seen him play for clubs such as Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town, Glasgow Celtic in Scotland, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest and currently Bolton Wanderers. From 2007 to 2017 he received 33 caps for the Republic of Ireland national team scoring 3 goals. He was a member of the national team squad which reached the knock-out stages of the 2016 European Championships in France.

· PJ Banville (Striker) switched sporting codes after playing League of Ireland soccer for Waterford United and later represented his native county of Wexford in Gaelic Football. Banville was part of the Wexford team which reached the All-Ireland semi-final in 2008, losing to eventual champions Tyrone. The forward has won four county titles with his club Horeswood.