Wexford see off Limerick

Two out of three ain’t bad

Dave Devereux

Chantelle Martin of Wexford about to fist the ball away from Limerick’s Olivia Giltenane
Chantelle Martin of Wexford about to fist the ball away from Limerick’s Olivia Giltenane
Catríona Murray of Wexford races away from Limerick defender Emma McGuire during Sunday’s game in St.Patrick’s Park
Wexford captain Fiona Rochford comes under pressure from Loretta Hanley of Limerick

If veteran rocker Meat Loaf is to be believed, two out of three ain't bad and that's exactly where Wexford find themselves after three rounds of the Lidl ladies' football National League Division 3.

Wexford 4-16 Limerick 3-3

After a second-half collapse that saw them overhauled by Tipperary in their opening outing, the hosts were out of the blocks like a proverbial bat out of hell against Offaly the following week, before retracting slightly into their collective shell, but they'll feel a whole lot better about the 60-minute performance they put in this time around.

The energetic Bernie Breen conducted the orchestra from midfield, helping to provide a healthy supply of ball to the forwards, who were in tune for most of the 60 minutes in St. Patrick's Park on Sunday.

The team as a whole did hit one or two bum notes, in particular during a brief spell at the start of the second-half when they looked like they were going to let Limerick back into the game, conceding two goals in the space of five minutes which saw the Shannonsiders close the gap to three points.

However, they quickly dispelled any notions of a repeat of their disintegration against Tipperary by scoring 1-10 without reply for the remainder of the contest.

Anthony Masterson's charges began the game in determined mood and were 1-1 to no score ahead within six minutes, with the reliable Fiona Rochford splitting the posts to open the scoring. She turned provider moments later, teeing up Chantelle Martin who rattled the net with a clinical finish.

Centre-forward Mairéad Kavanagh was Limerick's most potent attacking threat and she got the Munster side off the mark in the seventh minute with a well-taken point.

Kellie Kearney popped the ball over the bar to stretch the Wexford advantage out to four, with Limerick going agonisingly close to raising a green flag seconds later.

Stephanie Carroll played in dangerwoman Mairéad Kavanagh and her side-footed shot drifted narrowly wide of the left upright.

After points from Fiona Rochford (free) and Catríona Murray and a booming reply from Kristine Reidy, Kavanagh did get the goal her whole-hearted efforts deserved in the 19th minute when a pass from Niamh Holland deflected kindly into her hands and she applied a cool finish to give goalkeeper Mary-Rose Kelly no chance.

The Limerick celebrations had barely died down when Wexford had the chance to raise a green flag at the other end, but Chantelle Martin's shot was straight at netminder Karen Bailey.

A stylish point from Catríona Murray in the aftermath was a decent consolation prize though and the Slaneysiders didn't have long to wait for another goal when Aisling Murphy was dragged down and referee Stephen McNulty awarded a penalty.

Fiona Rochford missed a spot-kick in Wexford's opening day defeat to Tipperary, but the hotshot made no mistake this time around, clinically dispatching her effort to the left-hand corner of the net.

Rochford followed it up with a pointed free, and when full-forward Aisling Murphy buried the ball beyond Bailey after being played in by Bernie Breen to make it 3-6 to 1-2 on 29 minutes it looked like it was game, set and match.

However, Limerick rallied to storm right back into the contest with a Mairéad Kavanagh free completing the first-half scoring, before they hit Wexford with a double whammy after the turnaround.

With the half only 40 seconds old, Kavanagh and Cathy Mee combined to find the inrushing Stephanie Carroll in green swathes of open space, and the corner-forward confidently slid the ball over the line.

The hosts were reeling from the concession of another goal four minutes later, with Kristy Carroll applying the finish after collecting a delivery from Mee to drag Limerick back to within a kick of the ball (3-6 to 3-3).

Wexford could have been forgiven for thinking 'not again', but they illustrated that hard lessons have been learned by upping their performance levels for the last 25 minutes.

Fiona Rochford contributed three points and Catríona Murray added two to eradicate most of the damage of the quickfire two-goal salvo, although Wexford did suffer a setback when Niamh Butler was sent to the sin-bin on 47 minutes.

Limerick's numerical superiority was shortlived however, with the influential Mairéad Kavanagh also being shown a yellow card, seconds after she had forced Mary-Rose Kelly into a fine save.

What must have been most pleasing for manager Anthony Masterson and his backroom team was that Wexford did what they failed to do in their previous two games, and that was to keep up the intensity levels until the final whistle.

In the 57th minute Aisling Murphy rifled home her second goal after good build-up play from Fiona Rochford and Chantelle Martin.

The lively Catríona Murray floated over the next score, before Kerry native Bernie Breen grabbed the point her powerhouse performance deserved seconds later.

Substitute Fiona Rowe then got in the act with two stylish points, before Fiona Rochford rounded off the rout with a free, leaving Limerick propping up the table without a point to their name.

Wexford, on the other hand, will hope to again hit the high notes and continue to rock and roll towards a league semi-final place when they visit Leitrim, who have also won two of their three games, next Sunday, February 26.

Wexford: Mary-Rose Kelly; Maeve Quill, Marica Cullen, Marguerite Doyle; Ciara Corrigan, Kellie Kearney (0-1), Brídín Doyle; Bernie Breen (0-1), Róisín Murphy; Niamh Butler, Fiona Rochford (capt., 1-7, 0-4 frees, 1-0 pen.), Siobhán Cloake; Chantelle Martin (1-0), Aisling Murphy (2-0), Catríona Murray (0-5). Subs. - Maria Byrne for A. Murphy (temp.), Fiona Rowe (0-2) for Martin, Ellen O'Brien for Cloake, Elaine McCabe for Kearney, Sarah Harding-Kenny for Quill, Emer Cahill for Butler, also Sarah Merrigan, Georgina Hearn, Beth Cardiff, Lorraine Breen, Ann Byrne, Trina Sinnott, Eleanor Neville, Fiona Bennett.

Limerick: Karen Bailey; Emma McGuire, Caroline Hickey, Ingrid Laffan; Kristine Reidy (0-1), Olivia Giltenane (capt.), Sarah O'Sullivan; Loretta Hanley, Cathy Mee; Niamh Holland, Mairéad Kavanagh (1-2, 0-1 free), Kate Kennedy; Stephanie Carroll (1-0), Rosemary Rea, Kristy Carroll (1-0). Subs. - Siobhán Moloney for O'Sullivan, Orlaith O'Donoghue for Kennedy, Shelly Walsh for McGuire, Méabh McCarthy for Reidy.

Referee: Stephen McNulty (Wicklow).

Wexford People