Waterford best in derby
The challenge of All-Ireland Intermediate champions Waterford proved a little too tough for Wexford in their fifth outing in the Lidl ladies' football National League Division 3 at Gusserane on Sunday.
Waterford 1-17 Wexford 3-7
It has been a promising start to the season for Shane McCormack's charges, having seen off Down, Roscommon and Fermanagh and losing narrowly to Tipperary, but Waterford are a classy side and proved to be a little more advanced in their development.
Maria Delahunty has been missing from the Wexford Youths set-up since she was hauled off at half-time against Kilkenny on January 17, and in the meantime she has been back playing Gaelic for her native county and she kicked them into a second-minute lead.
Waterford would go on to spray eight wides in the opening half as they controlled the game, but they did double their lead with a Sinéad Ryan point in the ninth minute.
Wexford responded immediately when Catríona Murray was fouled for a penalty. The Baile Dubh Tíre forward hit the crossbar with the kick but scored the rebound to make it 1-0 to 0-2.
A brace from Michelle Ryan eased Waterford back in front but an excellent Niamh Moore point, after good combination play by the two Fionas, Rochford and Bennett, drew the hosts level again.
After points from Delahunty and Sinéad Ryan, Waterford goalkeeper Katie Hannon skied a penalty over the crossbar as the visitors moved three in front. Marcella Cullen registered for Wexford but Delahunty's third point meant Waterford led by 0-8 to 1-2.
Just when it looked like Wexford might go in behind, the Slaneysiders broke up the field in a flowing move. Róisín Murphy fed Clara Donnelly and the Shelmalier star sent a rocket to the net to send the sides in deadlocked (0-8 to 2-2).
The hosts started brightly after the resumption and took the lead when Rochford pointed a 25-metre free. A Delahunty dead-ball and a punched Michelle Ryan point gave Waterford the lead back and things quickly got worse for Wexford when Gráinne Kenneally fired past Natasha Walsh to make it 1-10 to 2-3.
A reshuffle by manager McCormack saw Siobhán Cloake enter the fray and score soon after. Aileen Wall and Nicola Fennell moved Waterford five clear but Wexford responded with points from the St. Anne's duo of Rochford and Bennett.
The game started to slip away from the Slaneysiders when Wall and Sinéad Ryan both added a brace of points but Wexford kept battling. They went close on a couple of occasions and Catríona Murray forced Katie Hannon into a smart save.
Sandra Thorpe added a late point before Aleisha Cullen and Maria Byrne combined to release Murray for her second goal.
Wexford now have a break of four weeks until they return to action at home to Leitrim on April 3, before finishing the round-robin stages with a visit to Offaly on April 10.
At the moment Wexford sit fourth in the table but still have a very good chance of finishing third with wins in their last two fixtures. However, the immediate aim will be to secure that semi-final place and a victory over Leitrim next time out will go a long way to cementing that top four spot.
Wexford: Natasha Walsh; Brídín Doyle, Marica Cullen, Georgina Hearn; Sandra Thorpe (0-1), Maria Byrne, Marguerite Doyle; Niamh Moore (0-1), Kellie Kearney; Róisín Murphy (capt.), Fiona Rochford (0-2, 1 free), Clara Donnelly (1-0); Catríona Murray (2-0), Fiona Bennett (0-1), Marcella Cullen (0-1). Subs. - Niamh Mernagh for Hearne, Aleisha Cullen for Marcella Cullen Maeve Quill for Marica Cullen, Siobhán Cloake (0-1) for Moore, Fiona Rowe for Bennett, also Bríd Byrne, Beth Cardiff, Caoimhe Denton, Rachael Bridges, Eleanor Neville, Caoimhe Roche, Ellen O'Brien, Ciara Corrigan, Niamh Cloke-Rochford, Chantelle Martin.
Waterford: Katie Hannon (0-1 pen.); Rebecca Casey, Caoimhe McGrath, Linda Wall; Nicola Fennell (0-1), Louise Ryan, Hannah Power; Gráinne Kenneally (1-0), Ciara Hurley; Maria Delahunty (0-5, 2 frees), Michelle Ryan (0-3), Aoife Landers; Sinéad Ryan (capt., 0-4), Liz Devine, Aileen Wall (0-3). Subs. - Chloe Fennell for Landers, Carragh McCarthy for Casey, Lauren McGregor for Hurley, Aisling Mullaney for Fennell.
Referee: Stephen McNulty (Wicklow).