Seniors hold on for victory
Waterford revival falls short
Wexford Seniors completed the perfect Sunday afternoon for adult inter-county sides with victory over Waterford, but they came perilously close to throwing it away in Division 1 of the Littlewoods National Camogie League at the W.I.T. Arena.
Wexford 1-11 Waterford 1-10
The Slaneysiders looked to be coasting to victory playing down-breeze, with their opponents reduced to 14 and holding an eight-point lead with twelve minutes to go. However, things got incredibly hairy as the hosts pulled within a point in the 58th minute.
If there was a turning point it was the double substitution of Ciara Storey and Shelley Kehoe. No doubt changes were welcome, with those on the bench well worth a few minutes to make an impression.
Taking off the best defender on the day, on the other hand, was not the correct move. The removal of Storey left the defence disjointed, despite the numerical advantage held back there thanks to Clare Whyte's 42nd-minute dismissal.
Suddenly, when Waterford got some momentum for the first time, there was too much hesitancy in the Wexford defence. Sit on what we have or twist, there didn't seem to be a clear path and they almost paid the price.
The last ten minutes will be what most people will remember from this game and that's a pity. Wexford did okay without being spectacular before the late struggles, building what looked to be a fairly comprehensive lead.
As well as the excellent Storey, Chloe Foxe was the one to really take her chance to shine early in the season. The St. Martin's forward looks fitter than last year, troubling defenders with an extra yard of pace that could make her a serious threat this summer.
It was Foxe's pass that allowed Wexford captain Bríd Gordon to open the scoring in the fourth minute. Waterford hit back almost immediately with a Beth Carton point, the first of a personal tally of 1-8 for the De La Salle clubwoman.
The Deise led just twice, when Carton pointed a free in the seventh minute, a score countered by a Shelley Kehoe strike, and then when Fiona Morrissey made it 0-3 to 0-2. Good defensive work by Katie O'Connor and Aine Lacey ensured Linda Bolger registered from a tight angle from a Foxe pass to level.
Emma Walsh, who earlier assisted Kehoe's point, was involved again with Bolger to set up Foxe's second score. Playing with the breeze, Carton hit back with her side's last score of the half in the 16th minute.
A foul on Foxe allowed Bolger to point and make it 0-5 to 0-4. Leah Walsh got into the clear to add another in the 21st minute, and Foxe rounded out the first period scoring herself after a foul on Una Sinnott.
Trailing by 0-7 to 0-4 at the interval, Waterford grabbed the opening point of the second-half through Brianna O'Regan. However, moments later Emma Walsh fed Foxe down the right, she picked out Linda Bolger with a crossfield ball and the St. Martin's forward fired to the net.
Kehoe's second point, a Foxe dead ball and a Bolger minor followed as Wexford further increased their lead to eight (1-10 to 0-5). For that Foxe free she herself was fouled and Waterford defender Clare Whyte received her second yellow card, and with it the dreaded early bath.
A Carton point was countered by Gordon's second from Amy Cardiff's assist in the 48th minute. Wexford looked under almost no pressure at that juncture and they duly downed tools and attempted to coast in.
Three Carton placed balls narrowed the gap to five, and the Waterford full-forward added another after an all-too-easy short free routine with Kate McMahon in the 57th minute. Waterford had not looked like netting all afternoon, but when Carton wheeled out of a melee 20 metres from goal and drilled high past Niamh Potter, they were suddenly within a point.
Carton's 55-metre free into the breeze in the 59th minute tailed wide to the left of goal and Wexford were finally able to run out the clock, winning a string of frees to keep the ball away from their own goalmouth in the couple of added minutes.
Next up for Wexford is their first home tie of the season, against All-Ireland champions Kilkenny (Sunday, time and venue TBC), with Tipperary to follow two weeks later.
Wexford: Niamh Potter; Ciara Storey, Síona Nolan, Louise O'Leary; Sarah O'Connor, Aine Lacey, Katie O'Connor; Amy Cardiff, Emma Walsh; Shelley Kehoe (0-2), Bríd Gordon (capt., 0-2), Linda Bolger (1-3, 0-1 free); Leah Walsh (0-1), Chloe Foxe (0-3, 2 frees), Una Sinnott. Subs. - Nicole Fortune for Walsh (41), Shauna Sinnott for Storey (49), Joanne Dillon for Kehoe (49), also Mags D'Arcy, Aoife Cousins, Margaret Byrne, Karen Atkinson, Stacey Kehoe.
Waterford: Tracey Kiely; Aine Power, Emma Hannon-Roche, Clare Whyte; Aoife Landers, Shona Kiernan, Mairéad Power; Fiona Morrissey (0-1), Lorraine Bray; Kate McMahon, Niamh Rockett, Iona Heffernan; Catríona McGlone, Beth Carton (1-8, 0-6 frees), Brianna O'Regan (0-1). Subs. - Jenny McCarthy for O'Regan (40), Valerie O'Brien for Kiernan (56).
Referee: Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny).