Seniors claim derby victory
More improvement needed
Wexford struggled mightily for the second game running but eventually saw off a limited Waterford side in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior camogie championship at Walsh Park on Saturday.
Camogie: Wexford 3-12 Waterford 1-11
The Slaneysiders were woeful against Offaly last time out, meaning managers John Kelly and Matty Flynn-O'Connor had no option but to ring the changes, both positionally and in personnel. It led to some improvement but overall this was a second worrying performance in a row.
Those waiting for a response from Wexford after the previous week's loss to Offaly will still be waiting. Maybe the considerably sterner test to come on Saturday against Cork will get the best out of the Slaneysiders, and it will certainly need to be better than this.
However, the task ahead is only emphasised by the score from Fermoy at the weekend. Having smashed Wexford the previous week, Offaly were brought down to earth with a bang, as the Rebelettes thumped the Faithful county by 3-14 to 1-5.
The Deise girls worked hard in this tie but the reigning Intermediate champions are littered with weakness at both ends of the field. While she didn't score, Catríona McGlone was arguably their most dangerous weapon with her pace down the right giving the experienced Deirdre Codd problems, after she had seen off Jackie Quigley.
Beth Carton was elusive when she dropped deeper and did enough to worry Karen Atkinson, but the Oulart-The Ballagh defender held her own. At the other end of the field Una Leacy grabbed herself another pair of majors, despite not getting a huge amount of ball.
Kate Kelly dropped back to centre-forward and certainly enjoyed more possession than she did seven days earlier. Mary Leacy's return couldn't have come at a better time, with Emma Walsh, who had more positives than most against Offaly, forced off with a hand injury in the first-half.
That opening period began with the hosts taking the first score, a Fiona Morrissey effort from Jenny McCarthy's lay-off. Yet Wexford, playing with a stiff breeze, responded immediately with Shelley Kehoe hitting the target.
It wasn't pretty but the visitors slowly built a lead. Stacey Kehoe popped over from Kelly's feed in the eighth minute before the latter added another from a poor clearance. Kelly converted her first free after a foul on Una Leacy to make it 0-4 to 0-1.
The first real period of pressure on the Waterford goal saw the Slaneysiders net. Kelly got a handpass off to Una Sinnott, and the Craanford youngster was fouled but battled away, forcing the handpass over the hosts' defence to Leacy who batted to the net from overhead.
After Lorraine Bray pulled a point back, Wexford went 1-6 to 0-2 ahead in the 16th minute through Kelly. But they would add just one further point with the elements at their backs - another Kelly free after a foul on Sinnott.
Meanwhile, Waterford were working their way back into the tie. Bray added a second point, Patricia Jackman registered her first free and Carton knocked one over.
Then, with the half drawing to a close, Carton blocked Laura Brennan, turned inside and fired low past the Wexford stopper.
With just two points in it at the break, Wexford had a battle on their hands. Jackman halved the deficit within two minutes of the re-start. However, seconds later Charlotte Raher fumbled Kelly's ball in and Leacy pounced to sweep home her second major.
Between that 32nd-minute goal, and Linda Bolger's net-rippler in the 54th minute, Wexford could only add two Kelly frees. The first of those came four minutes after the Leacy strike and gave the victors a 2-8 to 1-6 lead.
Waterford scored four of the next five points. Three of them came from Jackman frees, and the other was a classy long-range score from Carton. Yet they failed to test Brennan, deputising for the injured Mags D'Arcy, in that spell.
With just over six minutes remaining Wexford led by two, 2-9 to 1-10. Then they put the game to bed. Kate Kelly broke past midfield with the ball, drew the covering defender and handpassed into Linda Bolger's stride. The St. Martin's attacker flashed low to the hosts' net to make the advantage five.
Waterford had one last chance to get themselves back into the game when Carton powered through but Atkinson got the last-gasp block when a goal looked likely. Kelly picked off a 57th-minute point, and then Katrina Parrock quickly followed as Wexford moved 3-11 to 1-10 clear.
Carton's long-range score was cancelled out by Bolger's minor from tight on the right wing and, despite late pressure, Waterford couldn't find a second goal. Wexford now face into a massive encounter with Cork on Saturday afternoon.
A loss will mean that a place in the quarter-finals is in extreme doubt, especially if Limerick can pick up a home win against Offaly. With score difference counting this year, a big loss will likely leave Wexford hoping for help from elsewhere in the final round of fixtures on July 16.
Wexford: Laura Brennan; Ciara Donohoe, Karen Atkinson, Ciara Storey; Sarah O'Connor, Síona Nolan (capt.), Jackie Quigley; Emma Walsh, Katrina Parrock (0-1); Stacey Kehoe (0-1), Kate Kelly (0-7, 4 frees), Shelley Kehoe (0-1); Linda Bolger (1-2), Una Leacy (2-0), Una Sinnott. Subs. - Mary Leacy for Walsh, inj. (22), Deirdre Codd for Quigley (29), Marie Morrissey for Parrock, inj. (60+4), also Louise O'Leary, Louise Sinnott, Amy Cardiff, Chloe Foxe.
Waterford: Tracey Kiely; Claire Whyte, Charlotte Raher (capt.), Shona Prendergast; Kate McMahon, Shona Kiernan, Iona Heffernan; Lorraine Bray (0-2), Patricia Jackman (0-5 frees); Catríona McGlone, Fiona Morrissey (0-1), Niamh Rockett; Aisling Power, Beth Carton (1-3), Jenny McCarthy. Sub. - Aoife Landers for Heffernan (40).
Referee: Owen Elliott (Antrim).