Wicklow fall short
Brave fightback not enough as Wexford win derby
WEXFORD travelled to Aughrim Sunday in the finest of conditions in the Leinster Intermediate Championship.
Wicklow were faced with a difficult task having lost Jackie Kinch recently to travels and their cause was not helped with an injury doubt to Laurie Ahern before throw in.
After coming through a late test, the Cabinteely Foxrock clubwoman took her place on the edge of the square with minutes to spare.
Despite this boost, it was Wexford who hit the ground running. A 20 yard unchallenged run by midfielder Niamh Moore resulted in the Kilmore woman bury the ball into the roof of the net from 14 yards leaving Wicklow goalkeeper Kim Connors no chance. A dream start from the Model county.
Wicklow responded with a point from Niamh O’Brien after patient build up play involving Mulhall and Fusciardi after 90 seconds. Wexford set up very defensively early in this game, with the two wing forwards dropping to half back when they weren’t in possession of the ball and the wing backs dropping in as sweepers.
It was the fitness and speed of these two lines which was the difference maker in this game very early on.
Wing forward Kellie Kennedy was extremely impressive in the first half and chipped in with a point on a counter attack from a Wicklow turnover in her own half back line. This was added to by another point from Moore and Wexford were into their stride.
Emily Mulhall and Sarah Jane Winders thwarted a goal chance from Catriona Murray before Niamh O’Brien fired over her second point of the game. Wexford upped the tempo from here for a ten minute blitz mainly stemming from interceptions from their swamped defence and swift counter attacking.
Centre forward Fiona Rochford scored Wexford’s second goal on the eleventh minute which was almost a carbon copy of their first goal and again Kim Connors had no chance in the Wicklow goal. Points from Catriona Murray, Clara Donnolly, Alisha Cullen and Maeve Quill extended the Wexford lead to 10 points.
During this period, it has to be noted that Lorna Fusciardi was having a fine game in the half back line for Wicklow and Emily Mulhall was getting the upper hand on Wexford full forward Catriona Murray.
Laurie Ahern and Niamh O’Brien swapped scores with Maeve Quill and Niamh Moore before Wicklow got a timely boost coming up to half time with a fortuitous goal from Amy Ryan. Excellent work from the calm and collected Fusciardi fed her midfielder who shot from a long range.
The ball dropped just under the bar and off the keeper’s hand into the back of the net. A Georgina Canavan free brought Wicklow to within six as the half time whistle sounded.
Centre forwards Fiona Rochford and Laura Hogan both traded the opening scores of the second half as the sun rose its head for the remainder of the game. The Tinahely woman added a second point from the next attack following patient Wicklow play through the hands before substitute Maria Kealy reduced the deficit to four. Kim Connors produced the first of four second half saves to keep her team in the game in the 8th minute as Clara Donnolly’s effort was rejected.
This lifted the Wicklow crowd and sideline and also the players as Georgina Canavan topped off a lovely sweeping move involving Molly Cullen and Laura Hogan to bring the gap to three.
Donnelly and Amy Ryan swapped points and it looked like Wicklow were really going to keep the pressure up.
However, six minutes of mayhem resulted in Wexford again pulling away. Fiona Rochford at centre forward and Clara Donnelly in midfield seemed to be almost telepathic in their play and both players were involved in every positive move from here on for Wexford.
First up Donnelly assisted Ellen O’Brien in a score before Rochford jinked her way out of a tight area on the Wicklow 14 to fire over another point. Siobhan Clarke played a defence splitting cross field ball for Donnelly to run onto and the Shamaliers player obliged the ball with a fine score.
She followed this up with an assist to Catriona Murray, whose effort was turned behind by Kim Connors and extinguished another goal chance from the resulting 45 but Rochford popped over the rebound.
Again, Wicklow struggled to gain territory from the kick-out and Rochford fed Murray who this time popped it over. At this stage, Wexford had opened up a 2-15 to 1-10 lead with ten to go. Laura Hogan pulled a point back from a free and Clara Donnelly shot was deflected onto the post by Kim Connors with seven minutes remaining which could have been the nail in the coffin.
Wicklow however, never dropped their heads. A delightful crossfield ball from Amy Murphy to Katie Miley saw the attacker swivel and bury the ball to the top corner from 20 yards with five remaining. Unfortunately, for the Garden County, a dogged Wexford rearguard expertly stewarded by Marissa Cullen withheld every attack. Georgina Canavan added a free in injury time to bring the gap to three but Catriona Murray closed out the scoring to stem the Wicklow comeback, emerging victorious 2-16 to 2-12.
WICKLOW: Kim Connors, Emily Mulhall, Sarah Jane Winders, Aine Byrne, Lorna Fusciardi, Sarah Miley, Rose Fagan, Amy Ryan (1-1), Helena Dowling, Georgina Canavan (0-3), Laura Hogan (0-3), Molly Cullen, Amy Murphy, Laurie Ahern (0-1), Niamh O’Brien (0-3). Subs. - Maria Kealy (0-1) for Laurie Ahern, Katie Miley (1-0) for Amy Ryan and Annie Conroy for Niamh O’Brien
WEXFORD: Natasha Walsh, Ciara Corrigan, Marissa Cullen, Georgina Herne, Beth Cardiff, Roisin Murphy, Marguerite Doyle, Clara Donnelly (0-2), Niamh Moore (1-2), Ellen O’Brien (0-1), Fiona Rochford (1-4), Kellie Kennedy (0-1), Alisha Cullen, Catriona Murray (0-3), Maeve Quill (0-1). Subs. -Siobhan Clarke for Alisha Cullen, Triona Shortt for Maeve Quill and Caoimhe Denton for Marguerite Doyle.
Wicklow’s Amy Ryan has her shot blocked by Wexford’s Marguerite Doyle.
Wicklow’s Aine Byrne and Wexford’s Kellie Kenny in a race for possession.