Camogie side on the road to Offaly
Published 23/06/2015 | 00:00
As the summer temperatures rise, the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior camogie championship kicks off on Saturday for Wexford with a trip to face their conquerors in the Leinster championship last month, Offaly, in Birr at 2.30pm.
The Faithful girls go into the clash with the advantage of a game already under their belts, a narrow 1-12 to 1-8 loss against Limerick, and they will know that victory in their second round robin game will be vital if they hope to progress to at least the quarter-finals.
It's a difficult situation for Wexford right out of the blocks. They will likely need to win two games to make the quarter-finals in easily the harder group.
Cork and Galway are the other two counties that make up the quintet and if recent form is anything to go by, those two fixtures, that round out the group stages, will be difficult to take points from.
That leaves the Slaneysiders needing wins very early in their campaign to take the pressure off. However, neither Offaly nor Limerick will fear a Wexford side that's a long way short of the levels reached in the glory years from 2007 to 2012.
As recently as last month the midlanders proved too good for Wexford (1-14 to 0-10) in the provincial championship, with the visitors fielding a strong team that likely won't be a million miles away from the side that runs out at the home of Offaly hurling at the weekend.
The side that succumbed weakly to Limerick in the league (0-19 to 1-4) was certainly nowhere near as strong.
However, the Treaty women are flying and will take the strong form they showed in the league, and their excellent win over Offaly, with them to Wexford on Saturday week in a fixture that could go a long way to deciding a knockout place.
Wexford have a few niggling injuries that boss Colm McGee and his management team hope will clear up in the coming days, but he is likely to have a problem at goalkeeper with Mags D'Arcy out and one understudy in Niamh Potter also injured, leaving just Laura Brennan.
In defence Wexford have familiar faces in Oulart-The Ballagh quintet Mary Leacy, Ciara Storey, Shauna Sinnott, Stacey Redmond and Karen Atkinson, who was doubtful herself for her club's championship match played last night, all hoping for places.
The side is set to be named tomorrow (Wednesday) with Síona Nolan and Bridget Curran also vying for spots in the team.
Captain Shelley Kehoe forged a deadly midfield partnership at Oulart-The Ballagh with Shauna Sinnott, but it was Aine Lacey who started the Leinster game in midfield with Kehoe following the retirement of Josie Dwyer at the start of the season.
In attack former All Stars Ursula Jacob, Una Leacy, Kate Kelly and Katrina Parrock should offer Wexford enough fire-power although it didn't work out how it was drawn up against Offaly last time out.
Bríd Gordon adds experience in there while Louise Hammel will come under pressure for her place from Eimear O'Connor, Jackie Quigley and Stacey Kehoe.
Youngster Una Sinnott has received plenty of plaudits from the national media, both broadcast and print, in the last few weeks as being a player to watch but this championship might come a bit too soon for the Craanford-Monaseed starlet who is undoubtedly her county's brightest prospect.
After the games against Offaly and Limerick, Wexford will host Galway on July 11 and finish with a trip to Cork on the 18th.
The other match played in this group last weekend saw the westerners edge the Leesiders in Tullamore by two points (1-11 to 0-12).
The Intermediates must wait another week to make their debut in the All-Ireland series.
They face Down at home on July 4 in their opener but will be without free-scoring Mary Cummins who is out for the summer with a knee injury.
Manager Tom Dunphy should be boosted by the inclusion of several members of the extended Senior panel with Deirdre McMahon, Marie-Claire Morrissey, Marie Morrissey and Louise Sinnott, amongst others, expected to be available for the Down clash, with games against Galway, Cork and Meath to follow.