Ladies in final 12
Byrne's arrival vital in London win
Wexford advanced to the last twelve of the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate ladies' football championship with victory in a tricky tie against London in Fingallians G.A.A. club, Swords on Saturday.
Wexford 4-7 London 1-3
The Slaneysiders made heavy weather of the game in a tight first-half, and things looked decidedly dodgy when Rhona Newell drove at the Wexford defence and off-loaded to Bridget Gallagher.
The corner-forward proceeded to 'drop' the ball over the line while being dragged back by Georgina Hearn for the opening goal to make it 1-3 to 0-2 in London's favour.
The fact that the goal stood probably saved Wexford a sin-binning and allowed Shane McCormack's side to up the tempo, and more importantly, the passing accuracy with 15 players. Up until the net-rippler a lot of their play was mediocre with poor passing mixed with equal doses of questionable decision-making.
However, Maria Byrne, only on at the interval after arriving late because of other sporting commitments, reached high to flick Niamh Mernagh's long pass to the net, and with that Wexford were suddenly a lot more composed and assured in possession.
Byrne drilled just wide in the 39th minute when put through by Sharon Kehoe, but her side didn't have to wait long for their second goal which came three minutes later when substitute Niamh Butler, only on the field herself after Byrne's miss, shot high to the net from the right wing to give Wexford the lead (2-2 to 1-3).
Katie Redmond's spectacular finish past Lucy Hawkes gave Byrne an assist to add to her scores and made it 3-2 to 1-3 at the end of the third quarter. Two points from Kilmore star Byrne followed before Caitríona Murray got her reward for a high-energy display with a well-taken goal with two minutes remaining.
Murray and Byrne added points late on and Emma Hore was happy to tap over too when in on goal as London struggled in the dying moments. In the end Colm Smith's side didn't score in the final 26 minutes but they could have done some serious damage in the early exchanges.
Helen Hughes opened the scoring for her team in the sixth minute but only after several poor finishes prevented London building a lead. Wexford equalised through Murray and took their first lead when Róisín Murphy pointed a minute later.
Gallagher levelled to start the second quarter before both sides saw chances for majors come and go.
A second point from Gallagher allowed London to take the lead in at the break but it was Wexford who set up an August 8 qualifying round meeting with Antrim after closing the game out with a run of 4-5 without reply.
Wexford: Bríd Byrne; Maeve Quill, Marica Cullen, Georgina Hearn; Niamh Mernagh, Sandra Thorpe, Ciara Neville; Róisín Murphy (0-1), Sharon Kehoe; Niamh Moore, Catríona Murray (1-2), Ellen O'Brien; Chantelle Martin, Katie Redmond (1-0), Kellie Kearney. Subs. - Maria Byrne (1-3, 0-1 free) for O'Brien (31), Niamh Butler (1-0) for Martin (40), Emma Hore (0-1) for Moore (52), Mary O'Neill for Kearney (58), Mairéad Moran for Murray (60 + 2).
London: Lucy Hawkes; Ellanna Hackett, Mary Flaherty, Bernie Durkan; Sinéad McCooey, Rhona Newell, Caroline Benson; Helen Hughes (0-1), Orla McWeeney; Fiona Morrissey, Caroline Hanley, Róisín McDonald; Bridget Gallagher (1-2), Anne Marie Fitzgerald, Rebecca Mills. Subs. - Patricia McCarthy for Fitzgerald (46), Caroline McKey for Morrissey (47), Onora Mulcahy for Benson (56).
Referee: Gavin Corrigan (Down).