Women shine in local derby
Wexford Youths opened their Continental Tyres WNL League Cup campaign with a solid victory against a dogged Kilkenny United side in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday.
Wexford Youths 6 Kilkenny United 1
Will Doyle's team should have played UCD Waves in their first game six days earlier but the recent adverse weather meant that the game in the capital was postponed, and a home meeting with their south-east foes provided the first three points of the round-robin stage.
After hitting the net 17 times in their last outing, Wexford Youths came into the game brimming with confidence. However, despite the final score, they didn't have it all their own way against quick-pressing, high-energy opponents.
Indeed, on the balance of play, 6-1 was a little harsh on the visitors. Youths scored five of their goals in the last four minutes of either half - two in the first period, three in the second. Other than those spells they were frustrated by Kilkenny.
Wexford started with Rianna Jarrett on the bench, making three changes to the team which thumped Castlebar two weeks earlier with Maria Delahunty, Edel Kennedy and Ruth Fahy all coming back into the starting line-up.
The hosts had two decent chances to open the scoring early on. Linda Douglas crossed superbly to Edel Kennedy but the midfielder sliced her volley, and four minutes later Delahunty centred only for Kylie Murphy to slap her shot wide.
There was no such profligacy when Murphy was involved in releasing Emma Hansberry in the 17th minute. The attacking midfielder slipped beyond the Kilkenny defence and squared for Claire O'Riordan to find Nadine Ryan's net.
Almost out of nowhere Kilkenny equalised less than three minutes later when Sylvia Gee, formerly of Wexford Youths, gained possession to the left of goal, cut in and smashed a 23-yard shot in off the underside of Tamara Furlong's crossbar.
The goal shook the league leaders a little and they struggled to create for a while. Most moves were getting bogged down in midfield but Youths did eventually get away on the left through Hansberry with four minutes of the period remaining and, when she was fouled by Karley Leavy, Murphy converted the spot kick.
A splendid flowing move, that ended when Hansberry crossed for a wasteful Delahunty to smash over, looked to have cost Youths a two-goal lead at the interval. However, Waterford native Delahunty redeemed herself moments later with a cross that O'Riordan nodded in for her 17th goal of the season.
Wexford struggled to create clear chances in the second period and Kilkenny went close to getting back into the game when Hanna Scott forced Tamara Furlong into a smart low save.
That scare aside, Wexford were comfortable in defence and continued to probe. The dam finally broke in the 87th minute when Rianna Jarrett latched on to O'Riordan's cross and sent a half-volley to the roof of Ryan's net.
Jarrett added her second in a minute with a header from Hansberry's right wing cross, and Edel Kennedy scrambled home number six in added time.
Next up for Youths is another League Cup clash, this time away to Cork on January 31.
Wexford Youths: Tamara Furlong; Nicola Sinnott, Ruth Fahy, Jessica Gleeson, Ciara Rossiter; Kylie Murphy (capt.), Edel Kennedy; Linda Douglas, Emma Hansberry, Maria Delahunty; Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Rianna Jarrett for Delahunty (46), Shauna Wall for Douglas (63), Orlaith Conlon for Fahy (70), also Rachel Hutchinson, Carol Breen, Claire Conlon, Becky Cassin.
Kilkenny United: Nadine Ryan; Aoife Cantwell, Karley Leavy, Erica Byrne, Shianne Swares; Jenny O'Keeffe, Ali O'Keeffe (capt.), Sylvia Gee, Sinéad Gaynor; Jenny Clifford, Niamh Walsh. Subs. - Olivia Nolan for Swares, inj. (12), Hanna Scott for Gaynor (60), Laura Hallissey for Gee (78), also Tara Power, Ciara Delaney, Michella Farrell, Christine Coffey.
Referee: Brian Fenlon.