Girls gain place in final
The Wexford Under-16 ladies' football team qualified for the final of the All-Ireland 'C' championship with a polished win over Clare in Cahir, Co. Tipperary on Wednesday.
Wexford 4-11 Clare 2-3
Made up of the bones of the team which won the All-Ireland Under-14 'C' final in 2013, this was another positive step for the Model county in the sport. Wexford opened the scoring with a fine point from Teghan Furlong in the second minute. Clare then got into their stride and replied with a point and a goal in the sixth minute from the lively Catríona Callinan.
Clare were pressing hard at this stage, however some great defensive work by the Wexford backs kept them at bay. Wexford began to work their way back into the game and were awarded a free which was converted by Emily Coakley.
The game was then held up from the 13th to the 17th minute due to a Clare player being treated for an injury. Wexford resumed with more pressure on the Clare defence ending with four points in four minutes thanks to Rachel Bennett, Emily Coakley and Emma Codd.
Clare continued working hard and running at the Wexford defence in a tough, physical battle. Clare scored their second point from a free on 18 minutes to level up the contest.
Wexford got to grips with the Clare sweeper system and in the 23rd minute rattled the net after a decisive move. The Wexford backs moved the ball out well and Emily Coakley spotted the run of the lively Siobhán Doolan who finished well into the corner.
During the next few minutes both teams went in search of scores to no avail, with Wexford denied their second goal by the post. Just before half-time though Wexford found that crucial second goal.
A Clare attack was broken down in the Wexford full-back line and a quick transfer of the ball to the forwards saw Cathy O'Connor stick it in the Clare net to see the green flag raised again for the Wexford girls. That goal left Wexford in front by 2-6 to 1-2 at the break.
Clare were determined to make a game of it in the second-half, but straight from the throw-in Emma Cousins broke through the Clare defence and scored a great point. From the kick-out Clare scored a point at the other end.
Clare then missed a free and a gilt-edged point-scoring chance as they ran at Wexford, but the defenders kept putting the Clare runners under pressure.
Wexford also had a couple of missed chances themselves before they settled again with a brace of points from Emily Coakley. It was edging towards Wexford's day as they had a lot of possession now and in the last 15 minutes they got the scores they needed.
Teghan Furlong struck the net twice in the 49th and 55th minutes, the first goal down to sheer determination after chasing down the Clare defence. Points from Cathy O'Connor and substitute Katie Hendrick added to Wexford's tally.
Clare were ever-willing to carry the game to Wexford but the girls hassled and harried and contained the threat with some great defensive work right until the final whistle.
They now look forward to the All-Ireland final on Wednesday, July 29, against a Leitrim team which defeated Armagh in the other semi.
It would be unfair to pick out any individuals as this was a total team performance in this win. They showed a willingness to work for and help one another and also showed a lot of footballing prowess and skill.
Let's hope for more of the same on All-Ireland day on July 29. This group of ladies and their coaches have been working relentlessly since last October.
Wexford: Sophie Lenehan; Annastasia Breen, Sadbh McCarthy, Niamh Dunne; Cathy O'Brien, Sarah Harding-Kenny, Gillian Barry; Emma Cousins (0-1), Niamh Buckley; Emma Codd (0-1), Emily Coakley (0-5, 2 frees), Teghan Furlong (2-1); Rachel Bennett (0-1), Cathy O'Connor (1-1), Siobhán Doolan (1-0). Sub. - Kate Hendrick (0-1) for Bennett.
Clare: Michaela Roughan; Amanda Mulcair, Kate Dillon, Tara Kelly; Anna Courtney, Ciara Grogan, Sinéad Power; Jennifer O'Neill, Sharon Egan; Fidelma Marrinan, Caoimhe Harvey (0-1), Caitríona Callinan (2-1); Megan Downes (0-1), Emma McMahon, Emma Deegan.