Ty­rone sim­ply too strong

Wex­ford’s year ends abruptly at the quar­ter-fi­nal stage

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - DEAN GOOD­I­SON


THE CLASS of Ty­rone proved a lit­tle too much for Wex­ford as they slipped out of the TG4 All-Ire­land ladies’ foot­ball In­ter­me­di­ate cham­pi­onship at the quar­ter-fi­nal stage in the Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda, on Satur­day.

An­thony Master­son’s side came into the game on the back of their third de­feat of the sea­son against Clare. It left them with the most tricky of last eight op­po­nents, and the Ul­ster side were sim­ply too good.

Wex­ford still had chances but they would have needed more than their fair share of breaks to win this game. Ty­rone are clearly a good bit ahead of the Slaneysiders in their de­vel­op­ment and they will take some stop­ping.

There’s plenty to ad­mire about the vic­tors, as ev­ery as­pect of their game was im­pres­sive. They used the ball well, they moved it quickly for­ward and did it with ac­cu­rate, long passes, and when they got into shoot­ing po­si­tions they rarely missed.

This Wex­ford side have some­times strug­gled against de­fen­sive set-ups, with the ‘pa­tience’ mantra and all that, but this was al­to­gether dif­fer­ent.

Ty­rone have no in­ter­est in shut­ting up shop, as they be­lieve they are the best team in the cham­pi­onship and they go out play­ing open, ex­pan­sive foot­ball to prove it.

It made for a quick, end-to-end con­test. It was a game for the purists and, for one af­ter­noon at least, kick-pass­ing was back in vogue. That fact was bit­ter­sweet for Wex­ford as their op­po­nents were much more pol­ished at that type of foot­balling duel.

There’s al­ways things you can do bet­ter, mis­takes to learn from, and Wex­ford made plenty. At this level you are go­ing to turn over ball at times but you can­not throw away good pos­ses­sion with sloppy play and dread­ful passes as of­ten as the Slaneysiders did and ex­pect to get away with it.

It was an­other medi­ocre day for the in­side for­wards. Chloe Foxe was the pick of the Wex­ford at­tack­ers, as she was con­fi­dent enough to step up and take her shots when the op­por­tu­nity arose.

With Fiona Rochford de­ployed as a sweeper, the Clongeen club­woman was the only starter ac­tu­ally play­ing in the for­wards to score from play, and that’s just not go­ing to get it done.

With Sarah Hard­ing-Kenny away but Shauna Mur­phy fit to play, Wex­ford were still one start­ing de­fender short in the full-back line.

Master­son de­cided to drop Ni­amh Mer­nagh back and the Horeswood club­women was the best of the bunch, shut­ting down Ni­amh O’Neill in the first-half and re­strict­ing Gemma Be­g­ley to one point af­ter the break.

Oth­er­wise, Wex­ford strug­gled to con­tain the Red Hands. Be­g­ley was ex­cep­tional but Emma Jane Gervin did as much dam­age break­ing from deep as the tal­ented full-for­ward. Throw in Chloe McCaf­frey and Ty­rone sim­ply had more weapons fir­ing.

It was an­other for­ward, Ni­amh Hughes, who kicked the open­ing point in the first minute. Ellen O’Brien hit the left upright and Caitríona Mur­ray missed a fairly straight­for­ward free from 20 me­tres out on the right of the posts as Wex­ford tried to hit back.

Be­g­ley and Gervin both reg­is­tered to send Ty­rone 0-3 to nil in front, but Clara Don­nelly’s prob­ing down the right al­lowed Bernie Breen to pull one back be­fore Ni­amh Moore, a con­stant threat in at­tack­ing ar­eas, hit the tar­get in the eighth minute.

McCaf­frey gave warn­ing of her po­ten­tial to get in be­hind, but Fiona Rochford some­how got back to scup­per her ad­vances in the eleventh minute.

It wasn’t heeded. Gervin made it 0-4 to 0-2 but Wex­ford got a stroke of luck when a Ty­rone de­fender lost con­trol of the ball, Breen stuck out a foot, and it drib­bled past Shan­non Lynch off the in­side of the post.

Be­g­ley tied the game for the first time in the 17th minute (0-5 to 1-2), but a pair of Chloe Foxe points gave Wex­ford their big­gest lead.

They couldn’t main­tain it as Ty­rone scored three points in a row. Gervin got the first and hot­shot full-for­ward Be­g­ley added two more.

That would prob­a­bly have been ac­cept­able at the break, but when McCaf­frey drifted be­hind Shauna Mur­phy, col­lected Maria Canavan’s long ball over the top and calmly beat Mary Rose Kelly be­tween the posts, Wex­ford were in big trou­ble (1-8 to 1-4).

In truth, they never re­ally re­cov­ered. Ly­cre­cia Quinn kicked the open­ing point of the sec­ond-half and, freed from Mer­nagh’s clutches, Ni­amh O’Neill got her score.

Foxe gave Wex­ford a mo­men­tary respite but McCaf­frey and Be­g­ley made it 1-12 to 1-5 in the 37th minute.

Mur­ray fi­nally con­verted a free two min­utes later but two more Ty­rone scores were enough to keep Wex­ford at arm’s length. As the fi­nal quar­ter be­gan the Ul­ster girls seemed to be feel­ing the pace a lit­tle and their op­po­nents started to cre­ate half-chances.

What they didn’t have was some­one com­posed enough to fin­ish one. Breen, Ais­ling Mur­phy, Mur­ray and Rochford all had op­por­tu­ni­ties to beat Lynch for a sec­ond time but with ev­ery botched at­tempt Wex­ford’s hopes looked for­lorn.

Mur­ray wasn’t im­pressed at all to be with­drawn in the 50th minute as Master­son looked for a spark. It didn’t come with that change, as Maria Byrne went into the at­tack but her af­ter­noon didn’t im­prove close to the op­po­si­tion goal. Rochford did point to close the gap to eight with nine min­utes left.

The spark they needed came far too late. With 57 min­utes on the clock, Amy Wil­son was thrown on as a last re­sort, and in her first piece of ac­tion she took on her marker, was fouled, and Rochford con­verted the free.

For her sec­ond in­volve­ment, her bur­geon­ing mix of pace and power pan­icked Ty­rone again. She was around Emma Mul­grew when she was dragged down for a penalty, and the de­fender was yel­low carded.

Shan­non Lynch saved Wil­son’s spot-kick onto the cross­bar but the Castle­town club­woman col­lected and fired home the re­bound.

The goal sim­ply came too late to set up a fran­tic fi­nale as the full­time whis­tle went on the re­sump­tion of play. In truth, had Wex­ford some­how marched back and stole vic­tory it would have been un­just on the win­ners.

So it’s off to round out the club sea­son for th­ese Wex­ford play­ers be­fore plan­ning starts for 2019. Much will de­pend on whether An­thony Master­son is go­ing to stay on for an­other year.

With the side now in Di­vi­sion 2, giv­ing a bet­ter plat­form to be pre­pared for sum­mer, there’s still plenty to be op­ti­mistic about go­ing for­ward.

Wex­ford: Mary Rose Kelly (capt.); Shauna Mur­phy, Maria Byrne, Ni­amh Mer­nagh; Clara Don­nelly, Róisín Mur­phy, Ni­amh Moore (0-1); Kel­lie Kear­ney, Bernie Breen (1-1); Ni­amh But­ler, Fiona Rochford (0-2, 1 free), Ellen O’Brien; Caitríona Mur­ray (0-1 free), Ais­ling Mur­phy, Chloe Foxe (0-3). Subs. - Ge­orgina Hearn for S. Mur­phy (41), Aoife Sheil for But­ler (48), Rachel Ben­nett for Mur­ray (50), Mar­guerite Doyle for Foxe (50), Amy Wil­son (1-0) for Kear­ney (57), also Sinéad Whe­lan, Ann Byrne, Cailín Fitz­patrick, Lau­ren Cousins, Clara Rochford, Ni­amh Dunne, Sarah Hard­ing-Kenny.

Ty­rone: Shan­non Lynch; Ni­amh McGirr, Joanne Bar­rett, Chris­tiane Hunter; Slaine Mc­Car­roll, Emma Mul­grew, Emma Bren­nan; Neamh Woods (capt., 0-1), Emma Jane Gervin (0-4); Ni­amh Hughes (0-1), Maria Canavan, Ais­ling O’Kane; Ni­amh O’Neill (0-1), Gemma Be­g­ley (0-5), Chloe McCaf­frey (1-2). Subs. - Caoileann Con­way for Bar­rett, inj. (21), Ly­cre­cia Quinn (0-1) for O’Kane (31), Gráinne Raf­ferty for O’Neill (43), Méabh Mal­lon for Canavan (54), Emma He­garty for Hughes (57).

Ref­eree: Jonathan Mur­phy (Car­low).

Wex­ford sub­sti­tute Amy Wil­son scor­ing a late con­so­la­tion goal.

Wex­ford’s Chloe Foxe es­cap­ing the clutches of Chris­tiane Hunter (Ty­rone).

Róisín Mur­phy of Wex­ford rac­ing away from Ty­rone’s Maria Cana­van.

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