Cork crush woeful Wexford
Championship Special: Cork 3-18 Wexford 0-9
Well, there's that question answered. The one common musing leaving Innovate Wexford Park last week after the victory against Offaly was 'yeah, that was better but how will that side fare against Cork?'.
The Rebelettes scored 3-18 in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday and cantered. At one stage, midway through the second-half, a Cork accent bellowed from the far sideline 'you're not working hard enough'. He was right, as his side were going through the motions.
Think about that for a second: the hosts won by 18 points, beating a county that took them to extra-time in last year's semi-final. There was a massive gulf between the teams, and it's an insurmountable chasm.
Of course, Wexford won't give up, they can't mail it in, but those 22 players listed on the programme haven't a hope of matching this Cork team this year. They played to a different standard, simple as that.
The inter-play from the hosts was magnificent in the first-half. The didn't so much utilise diagonal long balls, they were more lateral switches of play. They stretched Wexford to breaking point with raking crossfield arrows, and it was majestic.
One moment summed up the first-half. Wexford had penned their opponents in deep in their own right corner-back position. Ashling Thompson was back there, coming under pressure, and she turned towards her own goal and fizzed a pass, hip-height, back to her 'keeper Aoife Murray.
The Cork stopper controlled the ball as if she was taking in a floated handpass in training. She switched play to the left, her side moved the ball all the way up the other end, and Amy O'Connor was fouled for a penalty which Murray converted. Clinical, brilliant.
It must be demoralising for some of these Wexford players, girls that have won All-Ireland medals. There isn't a gameplan that exists that would enable the Slaneysiders to beat Cork if they play like this, but John Kelly and Matty Flynn-O'Connor have to come up with something.
All Wexford can do is beat the teams they should be beating, get the easier quarter-final and hope they will meet one of Galway, Kilkenny or Cork in the semi-final on a complete off-day. There is no help coming.
Wexford attempted to copy their successful blueprint from the Offaly game. However, two things were different. Firstly, the Cork defenders were far superior to the Faithful backs and they must have seen the tape because they were ready for it.
Secondly, a lot of the deliveries were horrendous. If Wexford defenders weren't looking up and trying to pick out a team-mate there would be some excuse but heads went up, looked downfield and still hit into double-coverage or to nobody at all.
The full-forward line struggled as a result, although Una Leacy ended with three points and was the best of them. Méabh Cahalane marked Joanne Dillon out of the game completely, while Linda Bolger had a few moments but nothing sustained.
The half-forward line fared even worse. Emma Walsh had a few nice runs that Cork struggled to contain when she came deep. Mary Leacy was also more influential when deeper in the second-half but there were few plus points in this Wexford performance overall.
Amy O'Connor caught a clearance, ran in and pointed to open the scoring. Shelley Kehoe crept one just inside the upright to level the score in the seventh minute after being picked out by Bríd Gordon but it quickly went downhill for Wexford.
Orla Cotter opened her account from a free and quickly latched on to a poor pass out of the Wexford defence to double her tally. When Cotter again intercepted a clearance and popped it over, Cork led by 0-4 to 0-1.
The scores kept coming. Orla Cronin registered after taking in Pamela Mackey's crossfield ball before her sister, Katrina, ended the first quarter with a classy point. With Wexford offering nothing, Cotter, Libby Coppinger and Mackey all added further scores to make it 0-9 to 0-1.
Then Cork got their goal, coming from a Murray penalty that she rattled straight down the middle. The visitors had their best spell of the half in the final two minutes, as Stacey Kehoe handpassed back to Síona Nolan and she pointed from 64 metres out.
Wexford did have half a sight of goal late in the half but when Nolan's long free fell to Linda Bolger on the right side of the '20. The St. Martin's forward drilled the sliothar into the midriff of Cork's Chloe Sigerson and the danger was cleared.
Trailing by 1-9 to 0-2 at the break, and facing into the breeze in the second-half, there seemed little hope for the Slaneysiders. However, Cork didn't quite find their rhythm again and Wexford did improve slightly.
The referee also helped out a bit. A soft free given for a foul on Walsh was pointed by Bolger before the hosts didn't get a whistle when Coppinger was walloped across the back. Cork quickly forgot about it by registering through Mackey.
Then another borderline call allowed Mary Leacy to knock a dead-ball long to sister Una in the right corner and she pointed. A pair from Thompson put her side 1-12 to 0-4 ahead but Wexford chipped away with three in a row.
Bolger nailed the first from a Walsh feed, and the Glynn-Barntown clubwoman was provider again a minute later for Shelley Kehoe.
When Bolger grabbed her third score, Wexford moved within eight with 18 minutes remaining (1-12 to 0-7).
Before the visitors registered again, Cork picked off four minors. Cotter brought her tally to six with a brace, Gemma O'Connor got the loudest cheer of the day with a nice point, and Mackey scored again.
Una Leacy halted the momentum for a few seconds with a point that looked like it might have been outside the upright. Mackey and Cronin popped over minors before Niamh McCarthy, with a heavily-strapped knee, calmly handpassed by Niamh Potter to make it 2-18 to 0-8.
Again Leacy pulled one back in injury time but with Wexford out on their feet after an afternoon of chasing shadows, substitutes Lauren Homan and Leanne O'Sullivan combined and the latter completed the rout.
Wexford have a welcome weekend off before returning to action with a home game against Tipperary on July 15.
To take second in the group a win in that game, and against Limerick a week later, may be required.
Wexford: Niamh Potter; Aine Lacey, Ciara Storey, Karen Atkinson; Bríd Gordon (capt.), Síona Nolan (0-1), Amy Cardiff; Mary Leacy, Shelley Kehoe (0-2); Chloe Foxe, Una Sinnott, Stacey Kehoe; Una Leacy (0-3), Joanne Dillon, Linda Bolger (0-3, 2 frees). Subs. - Emma Walsh for Foxe, inj. (10), Sarah O'Connor for Lacey (35), Shauna Sinnott for U. Sinnott (38), Nicole Fortune for Dillon (49), Ciara Donohoe for Gordon (51), also Emma Kiely, Aoife Cousins.
Cork: Aoife Murray (1-0 pen.); Laura Treacy, Méabh Cahalane, Rena Buckley (capt.); Pamela Mackey, Gemma O'Connor (0-1), Chloe Sigerson; Libby Coppinger (0-1), Ashling Thompson (0-2); Amy O'Connor (0-1), Orla Cronin (0-2), Orla Cotter (0-6, 3 frees); Katrina Mackey (0-5), Niamh McCarthy (1-0), Hannah Looney. Subs. - Lauren Homan for A. O'Connor (42), Leanne O'Sullivan (1-0) for K. Mackey, inj. (60).
Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).