Seniors lose by one point

Offaly 0-13 Wexford 1-9

Dean Goodison

Shelley Kehoe about to strike the ball as Offaly’s Linda Sullivan moves in to challenge
Shelley Kehoe about to strike the ball as Offaly’s Linda Sullivan moves in to challenge
Una Leacy of Wexford breaks away from Offaly's Jean Brady

A lot is going to have to change in the space of the next seven weeks if Wexford are to make any impact in the All-Ireland Senior camogie championship.

The Slaneysiders lost their fourth competitive game in a row on Saturday, this time against Offaly in the Leinster championship quarter-final in Bellefield.

In truth, they deserved nothing more. Moan away about the last free that gave Offaly the win, as maybe it should have been a foul on Ciara Storey before she held on to the ball too long.

However, Wexford got more than their fair share off referee Gavin Donegan and could have had the game in the bag long before that incident.

Offaly weren't particularly good but at least they played a brand of the game that somewhat resembled camogie. If Wexford want to handpass their way down the field, then maybe some of the players should give Anthony Masterson a call.

Una Leacy must have been frustrated. Standing inside, waiting, hoping, praying that she might get ball. But handpass, handpass, handpass, run into trouble and lose possession simply isn't a recipe for success. The style of play is borderline putrid.

A side that was brimming with life, played the game with speed and entertained large crowds, has turned into an eyesore. It's no surprise that people are staying away; five years ago Bellefield would have been packed, but there were more at Junior hurling games last weekend than were at this latest setback.

Wexford played with the breeze in the opening half and looked lively for six minutes. Linda Bolger popped over a couple of dead-balls, Emma Walsh stuck a fine point from halfway, and the hosts led by 0-3 to nil.

The first Offaly score, which came from Triona McDonald, killed that momentum stone dead. Arlene Watkins flashed over but Stacey Kehoe responded to leave two between the sides at the end of the first quarter.

Wexford didn't score again until the 30th minute when Bolger tapped over after Chloe Foxe was felled. Meanwhile, Offaly did what they had to do, chip away and keep in the game with frees from Siobhán Flannery and a Debbie Flynn point.

It was clearly advantage Offaly at half-time, with the score deadlocked at 0-5 each. The visitors took the lead twice through Flannery after the change-around but they didn't exactly set the world alight themselves in the third quarter.

Wexford hung in there and with points from Una Leacy, Bolger and Stacey Kehoe they actually took the lead at 0-8 to 0-7. Flannery only missed one free, as she kept her side in the game and eventually pushed Offaly back ahead at 0-10 to 0-9 after 54 minutes.

However, the side managed by John Kelly and Matty Flynn-O'Connor looked to have got out of jail when Chloe Foxe's blocked effort fell to Shelley Kehoe and she handpassed over Mairéad Jennings and just over the Offaly line.

The Faithful girls are fighters and pulled one back in added time when Tina Hannon pointed. Playing on the side vacated minutes earlier by Louise O'Leary, Hannon quickly picked off another when latching on to the next Wexford puck-out.

Somehow, the referee kept going into the fifth minute of added-time. Ciara Storey was penalised on her own '20 for over-carrying after going to the ground following a hit. Flannery popped over her eighth point, the easiest of the lot from just to the left of the posts, to put Offaly one up.

Still Donegan played on but Wexford couldn't work the ball into a scoring position and Offaly battened down the hatches to book a Leinster semi-final place opposite Kildare this weekend.

For Wexford it's a seven-week wait until they face the same opposition in the first round of the All-Ireland series. With Katrina Parrock gone, Kate Kelly unlikely to return and Mags D'Arcy now absent, the championship might not last much more than the group stages with Cork, Tipperary and Limerick to follow Offaly.

Wexford: Niamh Potter; Ciara Storey, Louise O'Leary, Aine Lacey; Sarah O'Connor, Síona Nolan, Aoife Cousins; Mary Leacy, Emma Walsh (0-1); Bríd Gordon (capt.), Shelley Kehoe (1-0), Stacey Kehoe (0-2); Chloe Foxe (0-1 free), Una Leacy (0-1), Linda Bolger (0-4, 3 frees, 1 '45). Subs. - Shauna Sinnott for Bolger (43), Una Sinnott for Walsh (44), Amy Cardiff for O'Leary (56), also Ciara Donohoe, Joanne Dillon, Lisa Bolger, Karen Atkinson.

Offaly: Mairéad Jennings; Aisling Brennan, Jean Brady (capt.), Fiona Stephens; Lorraine Keena, Michaela Morkan, Linda Sullivan; Orlagh Kirwan, Grace Teehan; Arlene Watkins (0-1), Triona McDonald (0-1), Mairéad Daly; Debbie Flynn (0-1), Siobhán Flannery (0-8, 6 frees, 1 '45), Patrice Delaney. Subs. - Tina Hannon (0-2) for Flynn (40), Gráinne Dolan for Delaney (43), Sarah Harding for McDonald (52).

Referee: Gavin Donegan (Dublin).

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