Two titles from three
IT WAS two from three for Wexford teams at the Leinster inter-county finals in Dublin, with provincial success for the county's Class 2 and Class 3 squads, but disappointment for the Class 5 side.
The Class 2 final featured an emerging Louth side and a Wexford team seeking to regain a title they last won in 2008. Louth were the slight pre-match favourites, having narrowly defeated the Model county squad in the qualifying group in Roundwood earlier in the season.
The Wee county, however, were missing under-age star Liam O'Leary, and the loss of the talented youngster probably swung the balance of power back in favour of Wexford.
There was a good win in the ladies' singles for Aisling Chapman, reversing the earlier Roundwood result against Aisling Coyne to give Wexford a tonic start.
When Alan Mackay defeated Roger Smith, Wexford were two up and well on their way to regaining the title. Louth did briefly fight back to take the ladies' doubles, but victories for Alan and Vincent Mackay over Conor Doyle and John McFadden left Wexford just one point short of clinching the title.
This they achieved when Brideen Lynch and Vincent Mackay won the opening mixed doubles to secure the title on a 4-1 scoreline.
Wexford squad: Aisling Chapman, Sandra Dunne, Brideen Lynch, Clodagh Kent, Mairéad McDaid, Alan Mackay, Vincent Mackay, Seán Sexton, Frankie Morrissey. Managers: Edward Cousins and Colm Byrne.
Wexford overcame Louth in the Class 3 semi-final to set up an intriguing final clash against old rivals Meath. Similar to Louth in Class 2, Meath had defeated Wexford during the Class 3 qualifying group games in Carlow.
There was little to choose between the sides on that occasion and so it proved once again in the final. The teams were level after the opening singles and could still not be separated after the doubles, with Meath winning the men's events, but Wexford on top in the ladies' matches.
Meath edged ahead again with victory in the opening mixed doubles, but Wexford's Tomás Power and Tara Kehoe had the sides level once again when they defeated Willie Kelly and Áine Swan.
The outcome now rested on the final mixed doubles game, and the result went the way of Wexford with Chris McMackin and Clodagh Kent overcoming John Cassidy and Sarah Morgan to give them a narrow 4-3 victory. Team managers were Olive Waters, Frankie Morrissey and Pat Redican.
There was not such good news for the Wexford Class 5 team who were making a rare semi-final appearance. They faced title favourites Louth, but quickly found themselves 3-1 in arrears, with Ryan Butler picking up the point for Wexford in the men's singles where the St. Martin's player had a fine 21-9, 21-14 victory against Marty McGoldrick.
Wexford now needed to win all three mixed doubles games and made a brave effort to snatch an unlikely victory.
Paudie Foran and Deirdre O'Connor won the second mixed doubles game in three exciting sets (21-18, 19-21, 21-19), but unfortunately for Wexford, Tony Sinnott and Helen Butler lost an equally exciting first mixed 21-19, 19-21, 18-21 to give Louth a winning 4-2 lead with one game remaining.
Panel: Imelda Kehoe, Deirdre O'Connor, Carol Murphy, Ryan Butler, Tony Sinnott, Paudie Foran, Gary O'Neill. Managers: Helen Butler, Ross McNiven and Eddie Kent.
The Wexford Class 4 team failed to progress to the Leinster finals when they finished in third spot in their qualifying group in Roundwood. The Wexford side defeated Kilkenny 5-2, but lost by a similar margin to both Louth and Wicklow.
Squad: Eimer Dunne, Deirdre O'Connor, Imelda Kehoe, Helen Butler, Chris McMackin, Craig Healy, Lee Healy.