Women in driv­ing seat af­ter two wins

New­comer among the goals

Wexford People - - SPORT - DEAN GOOD­I­SON in Kilkenny

WEX­FORD YOUTHS moved six points clear at the top of the Con­ti­nen­tal Tyres Women’s Na­tional League ta­ble with four sec­ond-half goals against Kilkenny United in the Wa­ter­shed on Wed­nes­day.

With his side fac­ing into a gru­elling sched­ule in the com­ing weeks, man­ager Tom Elmes took the op­por­tu­nity to flip around his team a lit­tle and it took them a while to find their mojo.

How­ever, once debu­tant Doire­ann Fa­hey curled home a 50th-minute opener, Youths eased away to win.

As well as former Peamount young­ster Fa­hey at left-back, Aoife Slat­tery also made her de­but in the hold­ing mid­field role.

Cliodhna Ní Shé, Katrina Par­rock, Emma Hans­berry and Becky Con­roy all came into the side, while Ci­amh Dol­lard kept the goal­keeper’s spot ahead of the re­turn­ing So­phie Lene­han.

With such whole­sale changes, it was hardly any sur­prise that Wex­ford strug­gled in the firsthalf. The pace and in­ten­sity that put Peamount to the sword was non-ex­is­tent in the open­ing 45 min­utes as the hosts bat­tened down the hatches and de­fended ad­mirably.

While the mid­dle of the field was swamped, the op­por­tu­ni­ties were present in the wide ar­eas but Youths strug­gled to win those one-on-one bat­tles with­out Ais­ling Fraw­ley and Claire O’Rior­dan.

It wasn’t un­til Ni­cola Sin­nott got for­ward from right-back to dou­ble up and put in qual­ity crosses that Wex­ford looked like pierc­ing through the hosts’ de­fen­sive wall.

Both of the new­bies showed huge prom­ise. Apart from her goal, Kil­dare na­tive Fa­hey was com­fort­able at left-back and did su­perbly when push­ing on in the sec­ond-half.

Slat­tery showed com­po­sure be­yond her years and con­sis­tently de­mostrated her eye for a pass into the con­ges­tion in front of her.

Throw into the mix the im­mi­nent ar­rival of Hawai­ian McKenna David­son and Youths sud­denly have se­ri­ous depth in their squad. The Amer­i­can for­ward looks to have the tools to play any of the four at­tack­ing po­si­tions in Elmes’ side and could be a hugely im­por­tant ad­di­tion ahead of Au­gust’s Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign.

Wex­ford didn’t get much joy in that area of the field in the open­ing half. Their first chance of note came in the 30th minute when Slat­tery’s ball over the top sent Kylie Mur­phy away, but the Youths cap­tain meekly headed into the grate­ful hands of Ni­amh Coombes with just the Kilkenny goal­keeper to beat.

Ann Marie Burke forced Ci­amh Dol­lard to get low to make a sharp save in the 37th minute, but the longer the half wore on the more Wex­ford pressed.

Con­roy nod­ded a Hans­berry cross wide and the in-form Rianna Jar­rett prob­a­bly should have scored when she headed over from Sin­nott’s cross two min­utes be­fore the break.

Wex­ford did take the lead in the 50th minute. Fa­hey, break­ing from deep, played a one-two with Becky Con­roy, and from the left edge of the area curled a per­fectly-placed right-footed shot to the bot­tom far cor­ner to open the scor­ing.

Youths were a dif­fer­ent team af­ter the opener, as the ten­sion was all gone from their play. The in­tro­duc­tion of Or­laith Con­lon and Edel Kennedy, in par­tic­u­lar, helped.

It meant a move to the right for Emma Hans­berry, and Kilkenny sim­ply couldn’t deal with the Sligo na­tive in that po­si­tion.

It was her right-wing cor­ner that was fum­bled by Coombes and bun­dled home by Or­laith Con­lon to make it 2-0 in the 56th minute. How­ever, as the ma­jor­ity of her side cel­e­brated, Rianna Jar­rett lay prone on the floor.

Af­ter some at­ten­tion by physio Nigel Fitzhar­ris, Jar­rett con­tin­ued, put in a sprint but was quickly with­drawn and wor­ry­ingly had her knee iced and wrapped.

The in­jury seemed to break the Wex­ford flow for ten min­utes but as the game headed into the fi­nal quar­ter they hit their stride again.

Con­roy missed proper con­nec­tion on a Hans­berry cross be­fore a com­bi­na­tion of Mur­phy and Con­lon couldn’t force an­other cor­ner over the line.

How­ever, the cap­tain pow­ered home a 74th-minute header from a left-wing Hans­berry cor­ner to make it three.

Twice more Con­roy was de­nied, Hans­berry shot nar­rowly wide from a fan­tas­tic Fa­hey low cross, and Coombes some­how de­nied Kennedy from close range. Then Kilkenny hit back with a rasp­ing Leah Doyle drive from 25 yards out to give them some hope.

Yet the pat­tern of the game con­tin­ued. Orla Casey nar­rowly missed a telling touch from Hans­berry’s low, fizzing cross be­fore the chief cre­ator turned goalscorer in the 88th minute when lift­ing over Coombes from Con­roy’s del­i­cate flicked through ball.

A dinked Casey ef­fort in the fi­nal minute just grazed the top of the cross­bar on the way over but it mat­tered lit­tle in the end.

The re­sult put Wex­ford six points clear of Shel­bourne head­ing into the week­end fix­tures, with Peamount a point fur­ther back.

Wex­ford Youths: Ci­amh Dol­lard; Ni­cola Sin­nott, Cliodhna Ní Shé, Lau­ren Dwyer, Doire­ann Fa­hey; Aoife Slat­tery; Katrina Par­rock, Emma Hans­berry, Kylie Mur­phy (capt.), Becky Con­roy; Rianna Jar­rett. Subs. - Edel Kennedy for Par­rock (55), Or­laith Con­lon for Ní Shé (55), Orla Casey for Jar­rett, inj. (58), also So­phie Lene­han, Amy Walsh, Becky Cassin, Rachel Hutchin­son.

Kilkenny United: Ni­amh Coombes; Aoife Bro­phy, Sarah O’Donoghue (capt.), Shauna Martin, Leah Doyle; Carla McManus, Gil­lian Keenan, Ciara Ma­her, Colleen Rickards, Ann Marie Burke; Ni­cole Plun­kett. Subs. - Ni­amh Kelly for Plun­kett (46), Erin Best for Burke (46), Jen­nifer O’Neill for Rickards (78), also Me­gan But­ler, Sara O’Sul­li­van, Tif­fany Roberts.

Ref­eree: Tris­tan Eard­ley (Kilkenny).

Ni­cola Sin­nott shields the ball from Lu­cia Lo­bata of Gal­way dur­ing the home win on Satur­day.

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