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Saturday 21 October 2017

One foot in quarter-finals

Championship Special: Wexford 2-12 Tipperary 2-7

Dean Goodison

Shelley Kehoe is outnumbered by Tipperary duo Caoimhe Maher and Clodagh Quirke
Shelley Kehoe is outnumbered by Tipperary duo Caoimhe Maher and Clodagh Quirke
Wexford defender Mary Leacy gets to the ball ahead of Tipperary's Nicole Walsh
The Wexford squad before Saturday's home win over Tipperary

Wexford put one foot in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior camogie championship quarter-finals with victory over Tipperary at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.

The hosts showed strong resilience, responding when Ereena Fryday scored one of the goals of the season to drag the Premier county level ten minutes into the second-half. Wexford registered six of the next seven scores to ease away and put themselves in great position to progress.

The victory means that the Slaneysiders will qualify for the knockout stages as long as they stay within six points of Limerick when they travel west to face the Treaty girls in their last round-robin game on Saturday.

Wexford needed a response after the embarrassment they suffered against Cork two weeks earlier. The hard work was done in the first-half when, against the strong breeze, the hosts restricted Tipp to just four points.

Tipperary were probably guilty of showing Wexford too much respect. They were fairly negative playing with the breeze in the first-half, often keeping just one body inside. The move allowed their opponents to flood the midfield and it suited them down to the ground.

On the other hand, Wexford went with three inside against the breeze and it paid dividends, especially in the first nine minutes when they raced out of the blocks and built a 0-5 to 0-1 advantage.

Una Leacy picked up possession on the right of the posts and fired over to open the scoring. Linda Bolger followed with a dead-ball soon after before Leacy notched her second inside three minutes to make it 0-3 to nil.

Cáit Devane halted the Wexford momentum momentarily but Emma Walsh broke over the '45 and sent in a low line-drive that cleared the bar by a couple of feet. Stacey Kehoe made it 0-5 to 0-1 after a clever ball into the left corner by her twin, Shelley, picked her out.

The strength of the breeze was never clearer than when Nicole Walsh registered on the run from just a few metres inside the '65. A scooped effort by Miriam Campion in the 20th minute was too tame to unduly trouble impressive stand-in stopper Nicole Fortune.

Referee Cathal Egan really should have played advantage when Tipperary were closing in on goal in the 23rd minute, before Devane pointed the tap-over dead-ball.

It proved even more costly when seconds later Leacy smashed home a rocket from the deck, from the edge of the '20, after Una Sinnott had been blocked out.

Ereena Fryday pointed in the 25th minute to narrow the gap to four but her side wafted three wides in a row to end the half. There looked to be only one winner at the break, with Wexford 1-5 to 0-4 ahead.

When Linda Bolger slotted a brace of dead-balls within six minutes of the resumption, Wexford looked set to go and boss the second-half too. However, win-less Tipperary dug deep and for seven minutes looked half-decent.

In the 37th minute Mary Ryan's run committed defenders. When the sliothar was flicked off her hurl it landed in the path of the unmarked Orla O'Dwyer and she made no mistake with a calm finish across Fortune to the net.

If that goal was a little too simple, then the next was just a brilliant piece of skill. Nicole Walsh's point attempt caught up in the breeze and dropped on the right edge of the square. Falling away from goal, Fryday majestically swatted it back the opposite way, into the far corner of the net.

Chloe Foxe came on an nailed a huge free, from her own '65, within seconds. However, Tipperary went close to netting again when Róisín Howard forced Fortune into a smart save after good build-up play by Clodagh Quirke and Caoimhe Maher. Orla O'Dwyer levelled for a second time (2-5 to 1-8) but that was the final occasion her side were close.

Right at the end of the third quarter Stacey Kehoe played the ball into the goalmouth. Una Leacy was clearly in the square before the ball but it wasn't given, and the sliothar fell to Foxe who bundled the ball home.

Stacey Kehoe brought her tally to two when she tapped over from Fortune's booming puck-out. Twin Shelley broke clear to put her side five ahead with nine minutes remaining before Foxe added another point in the 54th minute.

The contest was up when Joanne Dillon made a sharp run from the left and tapped over with just three minutes to go. Tipperary, to their credit, kept fighting until the end, and Devane added a couple of late points to leave five between the sides at full-time.

Despite the possibility of falling into the quarter-finals with a loss, Wexford will go to Limerick next week looking for victory and second spot in the group. The game is scheduled for Saturday and will likely start at the same time as Offaly versus Tipperary. The venue and time of throw-in will be announced in due course.

Wexford: Nicole Fortune; Sarah O'Connor, Ciara Storey, Karen Atkinson; Áine Lacey, Mary Leacy, Síona Nolan; Bríd Gordon (capt.), Amy Cardiff; Emma Walsh (0-1), Shelley Kehoe (0-1), Una Sinnott; Una Leacy (1-2), Stacey Kehoe (0-2), Linda Bolger (0-3 frees). Subs. - Chloe Foxe (1-2, 0-2 frees) for Sinnott (42), Joanne Dillon (0-1) for Bolger (46), Shauna Sinnott for Walsh (52), Ciara Donohoe for Lacey (56), also Niamh Potter, Leah Walsh, Aideen Brennan, Aisling Cronin, Margaret Byrne, Aoife Sheil, Michelle Harding, Shauna Kelly, Eimear Nolan, Clodagh Jackman, Róisín Kelly.

Tipperary: Orla McEniry; Ciannait Walsh, Gemma Grace, Julieanne Burke; Aoife McGrath, Caoimhe Maher, Clodagh Quirke; Mary Ryan (capt.), Teresa Ryan; Ereena Fryday (1-1), Cáit Devane (0-4, 3 frees, 1 '45), Megan Ryan; Nicole Walsh (0-1), Miriam Campion, Orla O'Dwyer (1-1). Subs. - Róisín Howard for Campion (24), Mairéad Eviston for T. Ryan (31), Ciardha Maher for Fryday (51), Grace O'Brien for M. Ryan (55).

Referee: Cathal Egan (Cork).

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