Winning start halted by Tipp

Wexford denied by late goal

Dean Goodison

Stacey Kehoe under pressure from Tipperary's Anne Eviston and Keely Lenihan
Stacey Kehoe under pressure from Tipperary's Anne Eviston and Keely Lenihan

Wexford's impressive start to the season came to a grinding halt against a gritty but limited Tipperary side in Division 1 of the Littlewoods National Camogie League in St. Patrick's Park on Sunday.

Tipperary 1-9 Wexford 0-11

The hosts looked to be heading for a barely deserved victory, leading by 0-11 to 0-9 as the game ticked deep into injury time.

However, in the 63rd minute the Premier county won a penalty when Miriam Campion was impeded and Nicole Walsh converted to give the visitors the win.

On sheer determination and never-say-die attitude alone, Tipperary probably deserved their victory. They certainly took the game to Wexford and always looked the more likely to break the goal drought on the tight Enniscorthy pitch.

With the Intermediates and Minors also in action, Wexford had just 19 players available. They carried no goal threat at all and relied heavily on the free-taking ability of Linda Bolger, who ended with nine of her ten points coming from placed balls.

If there was encouragement in the victory over a sloppy Kilkenny side, then this has to concern the Wexford management. They certainly aren't playing with a full deck at the moment, but with question marks over the return of several experienced players, this could prove to be as good as it gets. On the plus side, Una Leacy has stated she will be back for the weekend trip to Cork.

The hosts started with the breeze at their backs and were able to build a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after the opening quarter. Nicole Walsh opened the scoring for Tipp but Bolger replied after Shauna Sinnott was fouled on the left of goal.

Bolger had Wexford ahead for the first time in the fifth minute, only for Orla O'Dwyer to break two tackles and pick off a fine score. Still, two more Bolger points, the second from right in front of the posts, her only score from play, eased the Slaneysiders clear.

When Megan Ryan was fouled close to goal in the 19th minute, Walsh blazed the resulting penalty wide right. The Munster side did continue to impress and were worthy of level pegging after points from Mairéad Teehan and Walsh.

After long-range efforts from Stacey Kehoe and Bolger missed the target, the latter did pop over a brace of dead-balls to give Wexford a 0-6 to 0-4 lead at the change of ends. Somewhat cruelly for the visitors, the wind dropped significantly at the break

Whipping over a nice point from just outside the '45, from twin Stacey's handpass, Shelley Kehoe opened the scoring in the second-half. However, Tipperary were easily the better team in the third quarter and began to close the gap.

Walsh nailed two frees in a little under 60 seconds to close the gap to just one point. She then flashed over a lovely score from 35 metres out, to the left of the goal, to bring the sides level for the fourth time.

Bolger was fouled at the midpoint of the half and converted the free herself. Yet back came the confident visitors with a Walsh free and a fantastic individual effort from O'Dwyer under significant pressure to make it 0-9 to 0-8.

A point behind, inside the last ten minutes, Wexford responded. Bolger tied the game for the sixth and final time after she was felled out on the left. The St. Martin's forward put the hosts in front in the 59th minute after Stacey Kehoe was hit in the head with a stray hurl.

What looked to be the clinching score came a minute into added time when Bolger fired over from the right corner following a foul on Bríd Gordon. However, Tipperary broke and nabbed the winning goal when Walsh's penalty deflected off Mags D'Arcy's hurl and flew past Ciara Storey.

This defeat leaves Wexford in some peril with two games to go in the group. The Slaneysiders make the trip to Cork on Sunday knowing that another defeat will leave them close to exiting the league, despite the great start.

However, victory on Leeside would mean Wexford could secure a place in the last four with a win in their final outing, at home to Leinster rivals Dublin, on Sunday, April 2.

Wexford: Mags D'Arcy; Ciara Storey, Síona Nolan, Louise O'Leary; Aine Lacey, Sarah O'Connor, Shauna Sinnott; Amy Cardiff, Shelley Kehoe (0-1); Emma Walsh, Bríd Gordon (capt.), Una Sinnott; Joanne Dillon, Linda Bolger (0-10, 9 frees), Stacey Kehoe. Subs. - Leah Walsh for U. Sinnott (19), Karen Atkinson for S. Sinnott (38), Aoife Cousins for Dillon (46), Katie O'Connor for Shelley Kehoe (57).

Tipperary: Sabrina Larkin; Julie Ann Bourke, Anne Eviston, Gemma Grace; Carol Casey, Teresa Ryan, Aoife McGrath; Mary Ryan (capt.), Ereena Fryday; Orla O'Dwyer (0-2), Mairéad Teehan (0-1), Nicole Walsh (1-6, 0-5 frees); Keely Lenihan, Megan Ryan, Miriam Campion. Subs. - Caoimhe Maher for Casey (31), Grace O'Brien for Mary Ryan (46), Laura Loughnane for Eviston (60), Andrea Loughnane for Megan Ryan (60+1).

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).

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