Another hat-trick for Jarrett as Kilkenny hit for six
ANOTHER RIANNA Jarrett hattrick helped Wexford Youths ease past hosts Kilkenny United at The Watershed on Wednesday, a win that sent them nine points clear at the top of the Continental Tyres Women’s National League table.
The victory means that the Ferrycarrig Park side need a maximum of 16 points from their final seven games to wrap up their fourth title in five seasons.
That magic number could drop while Wexford are in Champions League action, with fellow challengers Shelbourne and Peamount set to meet.
Having made their way onto the 40-point mark (out of a possible 42), Youths have now matched their tally from the whole of last season. It has taken them four fewer games to hit that mark, and they have scored 16 more goals in those games and conceded nine less.
On the face of it, this game looked like the type of contest to navigate, take the points and pick up no new injuries. In that sense it was a success but in the end it felt a little more like a missed opportunity, as strange as that sounds in a six-goal win.
Manager Tom Elmes set up his side with one eye on how they would approach Ajax today (Tuesday) in the opening game in the Champions League. It was more rigid, less expansive than you would expect against a team that was there for the taking.
There is certainly merit in that, and anyone would want to be prepared as best as possible for the huge challenges that await, but this system is well drilled at this stage.
The question remains, how well are Wexford prepared for chasing a game should they fall behind? This was an opportunity to play scenario football.
Arguably there would have been more merit in starting Becky Conroy and McKenna Davidson, two players who will be absolutely vital if Wexford fall behind.
Waterford native Conroy offers pace and consistent delivery from wide areas, and after Aisling Frawley she is probably the most natural in that position.
Davidson, who has been nursing a quad injury, has shown in her limited minutes that her technical ability is superior to anyone else in the Wexford squad.
While undoubtedly holding the ability to play wide, the Hawaiian’s game looks a natural fit in behind Jarrett, and she is someone who could dovetail with Emma Hansberry, swapping positions to keep opponents off-balance.
It seems likely that Elmes will stick with the safe options, as he did in this game, but either could contribute meaningfully from the start too. Wexford were comfortable throughout this but weren’t able to relax until they got the opener from Kylie Murphy’s freekick in the 33rd minute.
Kilkenny probably weren’t trying to create their own version of ‘Deflategate’ before kick-off but referee Jason Nolan had some problems finding a football from the hosts that wasn’t under-inflated. When the game did get under way, Wexford dominated.
Most of the initial positivity came down the right with Frawley proving a handful, while on the other side Katrina Parrock was trying to figure out Kilkenny’s high defensive line and their continually successful offside trap.
The best chance they created came when Frawley got to the byline and maybe should have cut it back along the ground, but chose to loft it for Rianna Jarrett to volley wide from eight yards.
A simple throw routine saw Orla Casey lay off to Parrock but she fired over a short time later.
Wexford won a free-kick when Casey got a hefty kick in the 32nd minute. Jarrett struck it pretty well but a little high and it sailed over.
However, when Doireann Fahey was hacked down by Bronagh Kane moments later, Kylie Murphy stepped up and curled a perfect free-kick under the crossbar for the opener.
Things got easier thereafter. Parrock slipped a pass to Jarrett on the left edge of the area in the 39th minute, and she cut inside, got a nice break off the defender’s heel and curled across goal to the corner.
Right on half-time Parrock rose high to nod home Frawley’s corner from two yards out to make it 3-0.
Kilkenny pushed a little after the resumption but were hit with a sucker punch in the 57th minute when Jarrett crossed low for Parrock to make it four.
Striker Jarrett took a lovely, long and low Nicola Sinnott pass, turned and smacked a 25-yarder past Niamh Coombes seven minutes later.
McKenna Davidson was only on the field a few minutes when she ran from her own half, beat two watchers and sent a superb slide-rule pass through for Jarrett to complete her hat-trick.
Davidson then had the ball in the net with eight minutes left but was denied by a very close offside call.
Jarrett probably should have made it seven when Coombes parried Aoife Slattery’s shot into her path but, to her credit, the Kilkenny ‘keeper got back up to make a solid save.
Wexford will return to league action on August 18 with a home game against Limerick.
Wexford Youths: Ciamh Dollard; Nicola Sinnott, Lauren Dwyer, Orlaith Conlon, Doireann Fahey; Aoife Slattery, Kylie Murphy (capt.); Aisling Frawley, Orla Casey, Katrina Parrock; Rianna Jarrett. Subs. - Becky Cassin for Conlon (53), Becky Conroy for Murphy (63), McKenna Davidson for Dwyer (65), also Cliodhna Ní Shé, Ciara Delaney, Sophie Lenehan.
Kilkenny: Niamh Coombes; Aoife Brophy, Shauna Martin, Ciara Maher, Jade Grant; Kayla Cooling, Sarah O’Donoghue (capt.); Bronagh Kane, Michaela Fox-Walsh, Ann Marie Burke; Carla McManus. Subs. - Colleen Rickards for Grant (46), Nicole Plunkett for Fox-Walsh (53), Jennifer O’Neill for Cooling (68), also Tiffany Roberts, Leah Doyle.
Referee: Jason Nolan (Kilkenny).