Senior camogie hopes hanging by a thread after third defeat
OFFALY WEXFORD 1-18 1-12
WEXFORD ARE on the verge of an early Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior camogie championship exit after slumping to their third consecutive loss, this time against Offaly in Birr on Saturday.
Following an expected defeat to Cork in the opening game, Martin Carey’s young side have now slipped to consecutive losses to mediocre teams Tipperary and Offaly to leave them on the brink of oblivion.
Injury-ravaged Wexford saw Chloe Foxe, Kate Kirwan and Aoife Guiney all combine early on to send a ball to Anais Curran for the first score.
Laura Brennan made a smart stop from Arlene Watkins before Linda Bolger and Shelley Kehoe set up Aoife Guiney to make it 0-2 to nil.
Siobhán Flannery and Watkins responded to level the scores for the hosts. A long ball sent in by Michaela Morkan was poked over the bar by Laura Brennan to give Offaly a lead, and Sarah Harding opened her account for the Faithful moments later.
After Debbie Flynn made it 0-5 to 0-2, the Kehoe twins combined to set Anais Curran up with a lovely ball which she popped over the bar in the 16th minute. Arlene Watkins picked off another point under pressure and Siobhán Flannery added a ‘45.
Sarah Harding’s score increased the lead to 0-8 to 0-3 before Wexford were awarded a free after Aine Lacey plucked a high ball from the sky and was fouled, with Linda Bolger converting.
Shauna Sinnott scored a lovely point from long range a minute later but it was quickly cancelled out at the other end by Sarah Harding.
Siobhán Flannery made it 0-10 to 0-5 in the 29th minute, and the visitors were hit with a blow when captain Shelley Kehoe picked up an ankle injury and to be helped off the field. She was replaced by Katie O’Connor.
Wexford came out fighting in the second-half. Stacey Kehoe sent a ball to Linda Bolger, the St Martin’s clubwoman was fouled, and she popped the free over the bar.
Then, Joanne Dillon and Chloe Foxe combined to find Bolger. She passed it back to Foxe and the dual star buried it in the hosts’ net to put just one point between the sides (0-10 to 1-6).
Shortly after Brennan saved a Harding shot on goal, Bolger pointed to level the game in the 35th minute.
Wexford tried to push on but Michaela Morkan registered to nudge her side ahead again. The killer score arrived when a ball, that was initially saved on the line, was struck hard on the ground by Siobhán Flannery and flew into the back of the net.
Linda O’Sullivan picked off a nice point from play before Siobhán Flannery put a free over the bar after Derbhla Doyle was penalised.
Offaly, now flying, added a Harding ‘45, after Laura Brennan had made an important block, to leave seven it at the end of the third quarter (1-14 to 1-7).
Ciara O’Connor sent a nice pass to Stacey Kehoe and the Oulart-The Ballagh woman picked off a lovely point. A minute later Wexford’s Linda Bolger added two more minors from placed balls to narrow the gap to just four.
Sarah Harding broke the Wexford run in the 52nd minute and Orlagh Kirwan fired a shot over the bar a minute later.
Watkins increased the advantage back to seven (1-17 to 1-10), and then Becky Bryant got her name on the scoresheet with two minutes to go.
Wexford didn’t give up and Joanne Dillon and Linda Bolger added a point a piece, which could be vital if qualification comes down to score difference.
If Carey’s side are going to have any hope of qualifying for the quarter-finals, they first need to beat Dublin in Wexford this coming weekend and hope Tipperary defeat Offaly in The Ragg.
That would, mathematically, keep their hopes alive for another week. Wexford would then need Tipperary to beat Dublin, Cork to take care of Offaly, and themselves to thump Meath to potentially sneak through on score difference.
Even then the Slaneysiders would face a daunting quarter-final opposite either Kilkenny or Galway, so there seems to be very little hope of a long summer for the Wexford women.
Wexford: Laura Brennan; Derbhla Doyle, Ciara Storey, Aine Lacey; Stacey Kehoe (0-1), Jackie Quigley, Shauna Sinnott (0-1); Shelley Kehoe, Chloe Foxe (1-0); Kate Kirwan, Aoife Guiney (0-1), Linda Bolger (0-6, 3 frees); Anais Curran (0-2), Joanne Dillon (0-1), Ciara O’Connor. Subs. - Katie O’Connor for Shelley Kehoe, Lauren Murphy for Kirwan, Leanne Foley for Doyle.
Offaly: Mairéad Jennings; Ann Marie Guinan, Triona McDonald, Debbie Flynn (01); Grace Teehan, Jean Brady, Róisín Egan; Orlagh Kirwan (0-1), Arlene Watkins (0-3); Siobhán Flannery (1-4, 0-3 frees, 0-1 ‘45), Sarah Harding (0-5, 1 ’45), Michael Morkan (0-2); Gráinne Egan, Becky Bryant (0-1), Linda O’Sullivan (0-1).
Referee: Cathal Egan (Cork).