Rebels routed as Wexford hit back with a vengeance
Wexford 4-12 Cork 0-14
SIX DAYS after being cruelly denied National League honours by the same opposition, Wexford’s camogie forces hit back with a vengeance in Cork’s own backyard last Saturday afternoon, as the purple-and-gold produced a superbly focussed performance to record a commanding win at Ballincollig, in the opening round of the All-Ireland senior ‘A’ league/championship.
This ten-point win has certainly got a richly promising Wexford outfit off on a solid footing.
But, they will no doubt appreciate that there is quite some work still to be done if they are to eventually regain a spot in the All-Ireland semifinals after failing to reach same last year. However, last weekend’s result against the current National League and championship title-holders shows just what Wexford are capable of achieving.
The Slaneysiders still have to face Dublin, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Galway in qualifying.
The win over Cork has set Wexford sights firmly on topping the group, something which would see them face the fourth-placed team in the semifinals of the championship proper, in which case Wexford would most likely avoid Cork and Tipperary, and meet one of ‘lesser teams’, Dublin, Galway or Kilkenny.
Wexford produced a highly commendable allround display last Saturday. That said, selectors Stellah Sinnott, Alan Aherne and Noel Ryan deserve huge praise for not alone having their charges in such good shape, but also for ensuring that their players channelled the bitter disappointing from the league final experience at Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park on Sunday week last in a very positive way.
The Wexford management pulled off a masterstroke in switching around their full-forward line from the league final, something which contributed to the Cork backs being somewhat at sixes and sevens early on.
This helped the wind-assisted visitors to make quite a confident start to proceedings, as Kate Kelly pointed frees either side of Una Leacy profiting from a neat delivery by midfielder Caroline Murphy to fire home the first of two personal goals in the second-minute (1-2 to no-score).
The Wexford backs acquitted themselves superbly, with special mentions for Noeleen Lambert and Deirdre Codd, who managed to seriously curb the threat posed by Cork’s dangerous duo of Jennifer O’Leary and Orla Cotter respectively. Anna Geary finally got the home-side on the scoresheet when pointing in the sixth-minute.
Wexford almost struck back with another goal, but Katrina Parrock’s fine effort was kept out by stand-in ‘keeper Eileen Clifford. She started in place of Aoife Murray, who was troubled by an injury sustained in the league decider against the Slaneysiders. But the breaking ball from Parrock’s attempt was collected by Ursula Jacob, who shot over to restore a five point gap (1-3 to 0-1).
Cork made some in-roads towards the end of the first quarter with points from Jennifer O’Leary (2 frees), Una O’Donoghue and Geary. But a second goal from Una Leacy in the 13th minute had helped to keep Wexford in-front midway through the half, on a scoreline of 2-3 to 0-5.
After a delivery from wing-back Deirdre Codd, the Cork goalie’s efforts to gather possession were not made easy by Michelle Hearne, with Clifford only managing the bat the ball away. Leacy then demonstrated her fabulous poacher’s instincts as she flashed the sliotar to the net.
A well contained Cork side pulled back a pointed free through Jennifer O’Leary, before Wexford pressed on again when hitting 2-4 without reply. Bronagh Furlong was denied a goal when her shot was parried at the expense of a ’45, which Kate Kelly pointed. Ursula Jacob tagged on a similar score prior to Katrina Parrock forcing Cork into another save.
Wexford finally breached the Rebel net once again in the 25th-minute, when Michelle Hearne hit the first of two rapid goals. After club-mate Kate Kelly’s shot had hopped around the 14-yard line, Hearne cut in from the corner to flick a breathtaking finish to the net for a magnificent goal (3-5 to 0-5).
Hearne used her boot to net again five minutes later. Kelly once more delivered the ammunition, which Hearne latched onto before booting it beyond the advancing ‘keeper and to the net.
Cork managed a late reply, when Angela Walsh struck an injury-time point, which reduced the home-side’s interval deficit to 4-5 to 0-7.
Although Wexford’s excellent work-rate never dropped, now wind-assisted Cork managed to make some in-roads by the 53rd minute. Points from Gemma O’Connor (2), Angela Walsh, Jennifer O’Leary (3, including two frees) and Rena Buckley (free) had narrowed the gap to 4-8 to 014 by that stage while similar scores from Kate Kelly (2 frees) and Bronagh Furlong had kept Wexford ticking over during that time.
However, as the locals began to really apply the pressure, it was heartening to see how Wexford re-asserted themselves for the remainder of the game, when going on to hold Cork scoreless while finishing with a series of points themselves to set down a real marker for Wexford’s championship challenge.
Una Leacy twice set up Oulart-The Ballagh colleague Ursula Jacob for points at the start of Wexford’s strong finish, which yielded a similar score from substitute Michelle O’Leary, together with a sixth personal point by All-Star midfielder Kate Kelly, to complete a much applauded victory.
That same afternoon Dublin fashioned a surprisingly runaway win over Kilkenny (6-7 to 17), while as expected Tipperary triumphed against Galway, on a 3-12 to 1-10 scoreline.
We are the Boys of Wexford, who fought with Heart and Hand