Camogie team to topple Tipp
Time for Wexford to deliver
Published 30/07/2016 | 00:00
Had they known, before a ball was pucked, that they wouldn't top the group, the Wexford Senior camogie team couldn't have picked a more favourable quarter-final than Tipperary in Walsh Park. But maybe that's the problem.
When things have seemed easy, straightforward, non-stressful, that's when the Slaneysiders have struggled. Motivation shouldn't be a problem for the last six of the All-Ireland series but this is a strange Wexford team.
They have mixed the sublime (Kilkenny, Offaly in the Leinster championship), with the clinical (All-Ireland wins against Cork and Clare) and thrown in some horror shows (Offaly, twice in Birr) for good measure.
This is why there's an element of doubt surrounding a game with Tipperary, that they should win pulling up. Simply put, Wexford have weapons that the Premier could only dream of possessing but that's not to say that Tipp's full throttle won't beat a 75 per cent effort from their opponents.
A three-point loss to a rusty Galway side in their opening fixture was the Munster side's best result. They easily beat Derry, as did the rest of the group, before falling heavily to Kilkenny in Semple Stadium. A disappointing draw with Dublin took matters out of their own hands.
So the Premier girls sat nervously on the edge of their seats as Dublin came up a goal short of overturning their superior points difference and making the quarter-final themselves. Their most recognisable players at this stage are the Fryday sisters, Ereena and Sarah, dangerous attackers in their own right.
Much falls on their shoulders, as they are lynchpins of a young team but not an outfit that has done enough to prove that they belong with camogie's 'big four'. The Slaneysiders' job is to ensure that stays the case. But which Wexford side will turn up?
The league is better off forgotten. That was a vastly different side which managed just a solitary win, albeit against Tipp. Leinster should be put to one side too; those two quality performances might have came just two months ago but plenty has happened since then.
Wexford started the group stage with a more comfortable than the score suggests 3-17 to 1-16 win against Limerick. However, they were truly abysmal when falling to Offaly by 2-14 to 1-7 seven days later. A victory over Waterford on July 2 (3-12 to 1-11) wasn't much better.
Wexford showed life, beating Cork by 1-9 to 0-9 in Innovate Wexford Park with Una Leacy rattling the net with a late winner. The Oulart-The Ballagh star bagged a double as her county became the only team to score seven goals in a Senior championship game this season when defeating Clare (7-12 to 1-5).
While Deirdre Codd is still nursing a bad knee that saw her face Cork but miss Clare, Stacey Kehoe is the newest injury worry, for managers John Kelly and Matty Flynn-O'Connor, after hurting her ankle against the Banner women. Otherwise Wexford are in as good a shape, player-wise, as they have been all year.
The biggest worry for Wexford is going behind and needing a response from the bench. That hasn't been forthcoming in the championship up to now so the onus, and pressure, is on the first 15 to turn up, match or better the intensity of their opponents and put on a solid performance.
Simply put, if a Wexford team boasting game-changers like Kate Kelly, Katrina Parrock and Una Leacy in attack can match the hunger and desire of Tipperary, they win and advance to the All-Ireland semi-final.
Yet they have rarely done things easily this season. Expect Wexford to win by a little more than a goal, meaning it's unlikely to be as comfortable as it should be.