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Thursday 20 June 2019

Byrne marks welcome return with two vital goals

Wexford 3-10 Longford 2-5

Maria Byrne marked her return from a serious leg injury with two goals as Wexford opened their Lidl Ladies' National Football League campaign with a solid away victory against Longford in McGann Park, Kenagh.

The Kilmore ace, who injured herself badly when falling from a horse, missed the entire 2017 campaign and was a huge loss to the Slaneysiders.

Byrne showed just how important she is to Anthony Masterson's side with an all-round excellent display.

However, it wasn't the only strong performance, particularly in an improved second-half.

Goalkeeper Sinéad Whelan was solid behind strong and combative full-back Niamh Mernagh, while Bernie Breen was a hive of activity.

Róisín Murphy got through plenty of work and excelled while Aoife Sheil picked off a couple of scores and proved to be a real handful for the home defence. All in all it was a good run out for the visitors.

Longford opened the scoring but Caitríona Murray responded with her first free of the afternoon. Again the home side hit the front in the 15th minute, only for the Clonee hotshot to level up proceedings shortly after.

After Longford exchanged points with Niamh Mernagh, Kellie Kearney sent a dipping 30-metre shot into the roof of the net to send Wexford into a 1-3 to 0-3 lead.

However, Aisling Greene, who ended the day with 2-3, hit back with a major at the other end.

The goal jerked Wexford into life and they finished the first-half with a powerful run of four consecutive points.

Murray bookended the run with a brace while Ellen O'Brien and Aoife Sheil also contributed to a 1-7 to 1-3 interval lead.

Far from being home and hosed, Wexford slipped back to parity by the end of the third quarter.

Fiona Bennett did pop over a fantastic point but 1-2 at the other end meant the scores were level heading into the final quarter (1-8 to 2-5).

At this stage Wexford took over. A Bennett pass set Byrne up to give her side the lead with a classy finish before Aoife Sheil and impressive substitute Cathy O'Brien pointed.

Byrne then made the game safe, beating two defenders before firing home to clinch the win.

Wexford are due to play Leitrim on Saturday in St. Patrick's Park. However, at the time of going to press that fixture is in some doubt as the Connacht county had no manager in place for the opening round and gave Kildare a walkover.

Wexford: Sinéad Whelan; Georgina Hearn (capt.), Niamh Mernagh (0-1), Marguerite Doyle; Clara Donnelly, Bernie Breen, Róisín Murphy; Kellie Kearney (1-0), Niamh Moore; Ellen O'Brien (0-1), Caitríona Murray (0-4 frees), Niamh Butler; Aoife Sheil (0-2), Maria Byrne (2-0), Fiona Bennett (0-1). Subs. - Chantelle Martin for Bennett, Chloe Foxe for Byrne, Lauren Cousins for Kearney, Cathy O'Brien (0-1) for Mernagh, Aoife Drennan for E. O'Brien, also Mary Rose Kelly, Ciara Ryan, Amy Wilson, Cailin Fitzpatrick, Fiona Rochford, Rachel Bennett, Aisling Murphy, Ann Byrne, Shauna Murphy, Sarah Harding-Kenny.

Wexford People

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