Under-16 camogie side hits back
Wexford kick-started their All-Ireland Under-16 camogie championship campaign with a solid victory over Offaly in Hollymount on Sunday.
Wexford 2-9 Offaly 1-5
The Slaneysiders, who lost to a Galway side full of goals in their opening game seven days earlier, bounced back with a hard-earned but fully deserved win against their Leinster rivals.
Nora Higgins waltzed through the Offaly defence from the throw-in and fired past Ellen Gillen to the net to give her side the perfect start.
Good work by Ciara O'Connor, Sarah Harding-Kenny and Ella O'Connor resulted in the superb Higgins pointing to make it 1- 1 to nil.
Rathnure starlet Higgins made the most of a Harding-Kenny pass in the seventh minute to add another point before Offaly responded with their opening point from a Kate Kenny '45. Another pair of Kenny dead-balls cut the deficit to two (1-2 to 0-3).
With Wexford working the ball well up the field into the breeze, Orla Fortune off-loaded to Oulart-The Ballagh attacker Anais Curran and she bagged her side's second goal in the 13th minute.
The visitors pulled a point back through Kenny before Caoimhe Dunne found a way past Mikaela Lanigan for an Offaly goal.
Higgins kept Wexford noses in front with a point in the 25th minute, but Hannah Larkin responded to again narrow the gap to one. Still, that was enough to give the hosts a 2-3 to 1-5 interval lead with the elements to come in the second period.
Offaly set up to defend deep after the re-start but that just encouraged Wexford onto them. After some resolute rearguard action, Curran popped over a point from a Sarah Harding-Kenny pass to make it 2-4 to 1-5.
Higgins knocked over her fourth point to sent Wexford a goal ahead in the final quarter. She added another one seven minutes from time to make it 2-6 to 1-5.
To cap a stunning individual performance, Higgins nailed a long-range free to increase the lead to seven. That was followed by late points from Ella O'Connor and Lettie Whelan as Wexford ran out to a seven-point victory.
Next up for Wexford is a home tie with Cork in New Ross on Sunday. That will be followed by a trip to Tipperary seven days later, and the Slaneysiders will realistically need to win both games to have a chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Wexford: Mikaela Lanigan; Kaitlyn Whelan-Kinsella, Anna Hennessy, Allanah Davis; Máire O'Rourke, Lara Conran, Hannah Keating; Nora Higgins (1-6, 0-1 free), Sarah Harding-Kenny; Ella O'Connor (0-1), Lettie Whelan (0-1), Anais Curran (1-1); Ciara O'Connor, Orla Fortune, Ciara Bridges. Subs. - Emma Sweeney for Bridges, Emma Sinnott for Fortune, Aisling Halligan for Davis, Anna Mulligan for Keating, Oonagh Barden for Hennessy.
Offaly: Ellen Gillen; Amy Byrne, Róisín Daly, Trudy Feenane; Aideen Bracken, Dara Hanamy, Helen Healy; Louise Mannion, Louise Savage; Kaitlyn Kennedy, Orla Maher (0-1), Aoife Hogan; Becky Bryant, Kate Kenny (0-4, 2 frees, 1 '45), Caoimhe Dunne (1-0). Sub. - Sinéad Moore for Savage.
Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).