Sheil strikes win­ner

Im­pres­sive show by ladies in Kil­dare

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - DEAN GOOD­I­SON


IT WAS a long win­ter of nurs­ing deep wounds for Wex­ford, but the early stages of pick­ing away at the scab tis­sue con­tin­ued in Hawk­field on Sun­day as the vis­i­tors pow­ered past Kil­dare in Di­vi­sion 3 of the Lidl Ladies’ Na­tional Foot­ball League.

What resid­ual scars re­main will only re­ally be ev­i­dent as the sea­son moves deep into the sum­mer months, but An­thony Master­son’s side look fully pre­pared to em­brace and fight their de­mons to get to their ul­ti­mate goals.

This was al­ways go­ing to be their first real test of the new sea­son and they met it head on. As ex­pected in any group game, the per­for­mance wasn’t per­fect but there was plenty to like about how Wex­ford set about the task.

They could have folded as they strug­gled to keep the ball out of the net in the first-half. Playing with the breeze, Wex­ford would have tar­geted a lead at the in­ter­val but when it didn’t hap­pen they just re-ap­plied them­selves and went at it even harder in the sec­ond pe­riod.

That’s ex­actly why any­one who has fol­lowed this team in re­cent years shouldn’t have any un­due wor­ries about the im­pact of what has gone be­fore.

This Wex­ford side keeps putting them­selves in games. They win lots, have lost a few heart­break­ers, but their ef­fort and ap­pli­ca­tion means they will cre­ate fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties for them­selves.

This sea­son there is ev­ery chance they will start to take those chances in the big games and build their own legacy, not as gal­lant brides­maids but as win­ners.

Kil­dare, so sprightly and im­pres­sive when claim­ing the In­ter­me­di­ate ti­tle in 2016, don’t look quite as des­per­ate for suc­cess as Wex­ford. They have some old com­po­nents, some new ones too, and these sides will surely cross paths on a few more oc­ca­sions this sea­son.

Wex­ford won this one and it would be un­fair to sug­gest they de­served any­thing less than all three points from this en­counter, a salvo that moves them top of the ta­ble with a per­fect three-win start to the cam­paign.

It needed Aoife Sheil to pop up in added-time and smash home a su­perb win­ning ma­jor to clinch the vic­tory. In­cred­i­bly, sec­ond-half ad­di­tional time was the only stage at which Wex­ford led, but that doesn’t re­ally tell the whole story.

With less than a minute on the clock, Ni­amh Sin­nott and Grace Clif­ford com­bined and the lat­ter smacked a 20-me­tre shot into the top cor­ner of Mary Rose Kelly’s net. Wex­ford, playing with the wind and snow at their backs, started to gain the up­per hand.

Caitríona Mur­ray tapped over at the sec­ond at­tempt, af­ter be­ing fed by Fiona Ben­nett, and soon added a dead-ball fol­low­ing a foul on the St. Anne’s club­woman.

Along with Ni­amh Moore and Maria Byrne, it’s great to see Ben­nett back in the fold and playing well this early in the sea­son.

Róisín Byrne had a pair of her eight points on the board as her side led by 1-2 to 0-2 af­ter eleven min­utes. How­ever, Wex­ford con­tin­ued to move the ball more con­sis­tently, with Bernie Breen and Chantelle Martin cut­ting the gap be­fore the end of the quar­ter.

Just when Wex­ford looked set to push on, they con­ceded an­other soft goal. The qual­ity in the move was the ball that took out three Slaneysiders in the Kil­dare half and set Ais­ling Cur­ley away.

She saun­tered into space, fed Clif­ford, and the Eadestown club­woman lofted in goal num­ber two.

Mur­ray re­sponded with a brace of points but there was a goal on with the first that she flashed over the cross­bar af­ter be­ing re­leased by Clara Don­nelly. Soon, back at the other end it was Ellen Dowl­ing’s turn to find the net and leave Wex­ford in a hole, trail­ing by 3-2 to 0-6 af­ter 22 min­utes.

Af­ter Mur­ray and Ni­amh Sin­nott traded white flags, the vis­i­tors still trailed by five ap­proach­ing the break. How­ever, Bernie Breen took four Kil­dare de­fend­ers out of play with a long hand­pass that picked out Aoife Sheil. She re­leased Martin into the clear and the Adamstown club­woman struck a vi­tal late goal.

Trail­ing by 3-3 to 1-7 af­ter playing with the breeze wasn’t ideal, but Wex­ford still had hope. Kil­dare didn’t have to work too hard for their three first-half ma­jors and that will be a source of dis­ap­point­ment for the vis­i­tors, but how they de­fended in the sec­ond pe­riod will put a smile on the face of Master­son and his man­age­ment team.

Byrne tapped Kil­dare three clear mo­ments af­ter the re-start, but sub­sti­tute Ais­ling Mur­phy sent a per­fect shot past Re­becca McGuirk af­ter Fiona Ben­nett did su­perbly to keep the mo­men­tum of the at­tack go­ing af­ter Sheil flared a point at­tempt short and left.

Par­ity didn’t last long as Byrne pointed twice at the other end. Wex­ford were dealt a blow in the 36th minute when Ais­ling Mur­phy went down in agony af­ter land­ing awk­wardly. She was stretchered off with an an­kle in­jury and re­placed by Cathy O’Brien.

Af­ter a six-minute de­lay, Kel­lie Kear­ney hit the tar­get with a nice point but Byrne kicked two more at the other end to make it 3-8 to 2-8. Wex­ford got level again when Sheil - who was a real nui­sance for the hosts’ de­fence af­ter the break - was fouled and Martin con­verted the spot-kick.

Byrne put Kil­dare one ahead with her sixth of the half in the 48th minute, but they wouldn’t score again and rarely threat­ened. Wex­ford were helped by the sin-bin­ning of Caoimhe Keoghe­gan with six mintues left, but the hosts were al­ready hang­ing on and con­tin­u­ally foul­ing at that stage.

Don­nelly lev­elled the scores in the 60th minute be­fore an over­lap­ping Sheil sent a rasper to the Kil­dare net mo­ments later. Wex­ford had to sur­vive an­other six min­utes but the hosts never looked like forc­ing the equal­is­ing goal as the vis­it­ing de­fence re­fused to give an inch.

Wex­ford have this com­ing week off and re­turn to ac­tion on March 25 with a game at home to Roscom­mon. Both Se­nior and In­ter­me­di­ate camo­gie teams are sched­uled to be in ac­tion on the same day, and with over­lap be­tween the squads there needs to be a quick res­o­lu­tion.

There will be no prob­lems in Cork, where both camo­gie sides have moved their fix­tures to the Satur­day, so the County Boards in Wex­ford need to use a lit­tle com­mon sense, talk to each other and get it sorted while there is still time.

Wex­ford: Mary Rose Kelly; Ni­amh Mernagh, Maria Byrne, Mar­guerite Doyle; Clara Don­nelly (0-1), Róisín Mur­phy, Ni­amh Moore; Bernie Breen (0-1), Kel­lie Kear­ney (capt., 0-1); Ni­amh But­ler, Ca­tríona Mur­ray (0-5, 2 frees), Ellen O’Brien; Fiona Ben­nett, Aoife Sheil (1-0), Chantelle Martin (2-1, 1-0 pen.). Subs. - Ais­ling Mur­phy (1-0) for O’Brien (24), Cathy O’Brien for A. Mur­phy, inj. (42), Sarah Hard­ing-Kenny for Moore (49), Ann Byrne for But­ler (58), also Sinéad Whe­lan, Aoife Dren­nan, Ciara Ryan, Amy Wil­son, Cailín Fitz­patrick, Fiona Rochford, Rachel Ben­nett, Chloe Foxe, Lau­ren Cousins, Shauna Mur­phy, Ge­orgina Hearn.

Kil­dare: Re­becca McGuirk; Shauna Ken­drick, Amy Ho­ran, Rachel Crib­bin; Louise Scully, Caoimhe Keoghe­gan, Rachel Cor­ri­gan; Trina Duggan, Ais­ling Cur­ley; Grace Clif­ford (2-0), Róisín Byrne (capt., 0-8, 4 frees), Eadaoin Con­nolly; Ni­amh Sin­nott (0-1), Ellen Dowl­ing (1-0), Molly Price. Subs. - Mikaela McKenna for Con­nolly (50), Siob­hán O’Sul­li­van for Dowl­ing (50), Michelle Cur­ley for Crib­bin (60+1), Or­laith Mo­ran for Sin­nott (60+7).

Ref­eree: An­gela Gal­lagher (Dublin).


SAT. FEB. 17 Di­vi­sion 1: Adamstown v. St. Anne’s (11 a.m.); Shel­malier v. Clonee (11.30 a.m.).

SUN. FEB. 18 Di­vi­sion 4 South: St. Fin­tans v. Ban­now-B’mitty (4 p.m., venue TBC).

Di­vi­sion 5 South: Tagh­mon-Cam­ross v. Glynn-Barn­town (11 a.m.).

Lar Whe­lan (Chair­man) re­ceiv­ing the Mol­loy’s Su­perValu New Ross Dis­trict Coiste na nOg club of the year award from 2017 from Tommy Mor­ris­sey of the spon­sors. Look­ing on are Fran­cis Quigley (Mol­loy’s league Chair­man), Donal McLough­lin (Ban­now-Bal­lymitty club Chair­man), and Michael Gan­non (New Ross Dis­trict Coiste na nOg Sec­re­tary).

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