Kennedy bags hat-trick as gap closed on leaders
Wexford Youths moved to within three points of leaders UCD Waves with a comfortable victory over Cork City in Bishopstown Stadium on Sunday.
Wexford Youths 4 Cork City 0
Edel Kennedy bagged a hat-trick and Claire O'Riordan was also on target as the Ferrycarrig Park side remained the only unbeaten team in the league as they reached the mid-point in their fixture list.
It took just five minutes for Youths to brush off the disappointment of Wednesday night's floodlight failure in Morton Stadium as Kennedy floated a long-range effort over Cork goalkeeper Trish Fennelly to the net.
Wexford were playing against the breeze in the first-half and Cork attempted to use the conditions to their advantage by going over the visiting defence in an effort to push them back. They had a few half-chances but the Slaneysiders defended well.
The second goal was always likely to kill off Cork's challenge and it came when great build-up play on the left allowed Rachel Hutchinson to cut inside and feed through to O'Riordan. The Wexford attacker saw her first shot saved by Fennelly but found the net at the second attempt.
It was a different story in the second-half as Youths completely controlled the football and the pattern of the game. O'Riordan went through one-on-one but was denied by Fennelly, but Wexford didn't have to wait long for their third goal.
That goal came from an Emma Hansberry corner that O'Riordan did fantastically to keep alive. She found Kennedy in the box and the dynamic midfielder hit the net with a tidy finish.
Three soon became four as Kennedy completed her hat-trick with a powerful shot that Fennelly couldn't keep out.
All in all it was a satisfactory workout and a good, solid performance from a dominant Wexford Youths side. Regardless, three points are the most important thing now with just seven games remaining, and every point is going to be vital.
Table-toppers UCD put back-to-back 3-0 defeats in the space of four days on previous leaders Galway. They have played two games more than Will Doyle's side, but a big showdown is brewing with the sides set to meet on April 20.
Before that Wexford have the Shield final to complete against Shelbourne on Wednesday (7.30 p.m.) in Ferrycarrig Park before hosting Kilkenny in the league on Saturday (also 7.30 p.m.) - the final fixture before the two-and-a-half week international break.
Wexford Youths: Tamara Furlong; Nicola Sinnott, Jessica Gleeson, Orlaith Conlon; Linda Douglas, Emma Hansberry, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Edel Kennedy, Aisling Frawley; Rachel Hutchinson, Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Becky Cassin for Hutchinson, Shauna Wall for Hansberry, Ruth Fahy for Murphy, also Lauren Dwyer, Amy Walsh.
Cork City: Trish Fennelly; Lorna O'Connell, Lauren Murphy, Ciara McNamara, Zoe Murphy; Evelyn Daly, Saorise Noonan, Barbara O'Connell, Maggie Duncliffe, Megan Kelleher; Ciara Desmond. Subs. - Lauren Homan for L. Murphy, Tara O'Gorman for B. O'Connell, Danielle Burke for Noonan, also Angie Carry, Nathalie O'Brien, Kate O'Donovan, Amy O'Reilly.
Referee: Micky Crean.