Third time lucky
Wexford Ladies Intermediate Football Final: St Martin's 2-13 Gusserane 0-9
After losing the last two finals, St Martin's were determined to end their negative streak. They did that and more when defeating Gusserane in the Wexford Ladies Intermediate Football final in Oylegate on Saturday afternoon last.
It's hard to win a final without everyone contributing and St Martin's were no different. However, one thing everybody at this game could agree on was the sensational performance of the victors' goalkeeper Aoife McAuliffe.
Gusserane came into the game as lukewarm favourites after a stunning season leading into the decider and they may have emerged as champions had McAuliffe not repelled everything that the New Ross district side threw at her.
The former county 'stopper was not the only heroine for her side. Right across the board everyone excelled. Youngster Niamh Dunne was immense in a defence, solidified by the powerful presence of Marie Claire Morrissey.
Mary Barrett did excellent work in the middle third of the field in tandem with the superb Lesley Bates. Further forward Katie O'Connor impressed on her return to the lineup and Eleanor Kehoe was in devastating form in front of the posts.
After Gusserane threatened an early goal, it was St Martin's who took the lead when Lettie Whelan opened the scoring. Áine McGarr responded with a close range free but her side struggled to get the scoreboard moving consistently.
After Emma Codd opened her account, St Martin's got up a head of steam. Aisling Cronin knocked over a dead-ball, Codd grabbed another and Niamh Dunne drifted up field and split the posts.
Further points from Kehoe and Whelan moved the St Martin's 0-7 to 0-1 ahead. When Cronin netted from O'Connor's pass as the game approached half-time, Gusserane had a mountain to climb.
They did register a Ciara O'Connor score just before the interval (1-7 to 0-2) but Eleanor Kehoe netted shortly after the resumption to leave Gusserane in a hole. A fine Ashling Murphy over just after the resumption closed the deficit but McAuliffe prevented it narrowing further.
Kehoe and Amy Cardiff put the Piercestown based side 2-9 to 0-3 ahead as the game moved into the final quarter. Then Gusserane started to find the target, McGarr hit three and Murphy scored a point to close the gap to seven.
That was as close as they got. Substitute Fiona Ryan added a score and McGarr brought her tally to five but St Martin's stayed ahead. Orlaith Barrett came off the bench for the victors to point as they held on for the win.
While St Martin's will play senior football next season, it's back to intermediate for Gusserane. Having made great strides with a hungry squad and dedicated management team it will be no surprise if they go one better in 2018.
ST MARTIN'S: Aoife McAuliffe; Lauren Carty, Ellen Barrett, Niamh Dunne (0-1); Rachael Bridges, Marie Claire Morrissey, Megan Carty; Lesley Bates, Lettie Whelan (0-2); Emma Codd (0-3), Katie O'Connor, Kate Devereux (capt.); Aisling Cronin (1-2, 0-2 frees), Eleanor Kehoe (1-3), Mary Barrett. Subs. - Amy Cardiff (0-1) for Devereux, Anna Hennessy for Bridges, Orlaith Barrett (0-1) for L. Carty, Grainne Waters for M. Carty, Rachel Kehoe for E. Kehoe, also, Rachel Scannell, Roisin Nolan, Eimear O'Brien, Anna Mulligan, Becky Hamilton, Ellie Mernagh, Peig Busher O'Sullivan, Ella O'Connor, Lisa Firman, Rachel Cantwell.
GUSSERANE: Ellie Byrne; Bev Kehoe, Anna Breen, Michelle Ryan; Aoidin Kiely, Aoife Drennan (capt.), Amanda Power; Sinead Egan, Ciara Ryan; Ciara O'Connor (0-1), Ashling Murphy (0-2), Áine McGarr (0-5, 3 free); Áine Kinsella, Siobhan Kehoe, Fiona Reville. Subs. - Siobhan Byrne for S. Kehoe, Sinead Murphy for Kinsella, Niamh Browne for Power, Fiona Ryan (0-1) for Reville, also, Emma O'Connor, Roisin Power, Clodagh Bohanna, Linda Bradley, Tracey Power, Aoife Ryan, Eimear Kinsella, Wendy Hennessey, Aoidhnait Kehoe.
REFEREE: Ian Plunkett (Baile Dubh Tire)