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Sunday 18 November 2018

Cork in full control

Camogie All-Ireland Championship: Cork 1-19 Wexford 0-7

A midfield battle between Shelley Kehoe and Cork’s Julia White. Photograph: George Hatchell
A midfield battle between Shelley Kehoe and Cork’s Julia White. Photograph: George Hatchell

Dean Goodison in Páirc Uí Rinn

Anyone who is surprised by this hasn't been paying attention. Probably the most inexperienced championship camogie team to start for Wexford in decades had no answer to Cork's know-how in Pairc Uí Rinn on Saturday.

It would be a lie to say that the victors were anything other than ordinary. They were mediocre, sloppy and wasteful in possession, but they still racked up 20 scores and won by 15 without going anywhere near top gear.

Wexford, already banjaxed by the County Board's inability to source a manager until January, have been further shredded by injury.

With the two Unas, Leacy and Sinnott, definitely out, Martin Carey named Chloe Foxe in the starting line-up, no doubt hoping that the St. Martin's clubwoman would shake off her persistent hamstring injury and take her place in midfield.

However, that didn't work out for the Kilkenny native, meaning five of his side were making their debut in the All-Ireland Senior championship, including three - Ciara O'Connor, Kate Kirwan and Lauren Murphy - who were Under-16 last year.

Of the others, only the Kehoe twins, Ciara Storey and Linda Bolger would fall into the experienced bracket, while Shauna Sinnott and Áine Lacey have been in and out of the set-up over several seasons without previously cementing a starting berth.

When facing a daunting Cork side, with a mish-mash group of players, the last thing you need is problems on the journey, but a faulty air-con system on the team bus gave Wexford a torrid time before they even went face to face with a red jersey.

Yet the Slaneysiders didn't lack in effort. They battled right up to full-time, despite the fact that the result had been in little doubt for a substantial period. What they were lacking was the quality to trouble their hosts.

Most of the Wexford newbies had encouraging individual moments. Maybe there was a little 'shock and awe' at times coming out against Cork, and that's okay, but it's Tipperary next and that can't happen again, as it has to be flat out, maximum effort into every ruck. There's no 90 per cent in Senior camogie.

Few really shone, and how could they in such a heavy defeat, but Laura Brennan was solid and mistake-free between the posts.

In front of her, clubmate Leanne Foley can be happy with her performance too, especially considering she wasn't named in the original 15.

The game itself was fairly turgid for long periods. There were a lot of stoppages, some through injury, others when Ray Kelly felt the need to hand out a lecture. The game just couldn't catch light, apart from maybe the final ten minutes as scores started to flow.

Even when the ball was in play, Cork's system of deploying Niamh McCarthy alone in the full-forward line invited Wexford to drop players deep into midfield to match-up, and there was a lot of scrappy, ugly ball spread inaccurately around the middle third of the field.

Multiple times for each side, a player took possession in midfield, looked for a crossfield pass and floated it straight to a member of the opposition. The difference was that Cork had a more experienced, solid defence, plus a couple of playmakers that Wexford couldn't stop.

Amy O'Connor produced a riddle that the visitors failed to solve. It was simple enough, gain possession, run directly at goal with great pace and see what happened. Five points from play happened, and multiple assists happened too.

Ashling Thompson opened the scoring in the first minute. O'Connor did make it two before Katrina Mackey opened her account.

Sweeper Gemma O'Connor made it four points in nine minutes before Orla Cronin notched one from Amy O'Connor's handpass.

Cork ended the opening quarter 0-6 to nil in front after Cronin converted a free when Linda Collins was fouled. Kate Kirwan set Shelley Kehoe up in the 21st minute but the Wexford captain missed the target under little pressure.

Her side did get on the scoreboard two minutes later when Ciara O'Connor was fouled and Linda Bolger converted. At the other end, Amy O'Connor added her second and Mackey got a quick double to see Cork 0-9 to 0-1 ahead.

St. Martin's sharpshooter Bolger split the posts again in added-time when a high challenge on Lauren Murphy resulted in another free.

Stacey Kehoe notched Wexford's only score from play of the half in the fifth minute of added-time to leave six between the teams at the interval.

Only a Cronin point had been added to the scoreboard when Wexford suffered another injury nightmare. Under pressure from behind, Sarah O'Connor crumpled awkwardly to the ground and she needed to be carried from the field on a stretcher.

Cork scored the next four points, with O'Connor nabbing two, and dead-balls from Cronin and Chloe Sigerson helping the score along to 0-14 to 0-3.

With 52 minutes on the clock, Bolger registered her side's first of the half from a free after a soft foul on Joanne Dillon.

Substitute Lauren Homan pointed for Cork but Wexford suddenly hit a purple patch, scoring three points in a row.

Bolger got all three, the first from a Shelley Kehoe pass, the second after a good run from Ciara O'Connor was blocked and she won a '45, and the third from a free after Jackie Quigley was impeded.

A 0-15 to 0-7 scoreline looked reasonably respectable heading into the final minute of normal time, but Cork had no interest in stopping. They scored 1-4 in the time left, with Mackey appling the major finish deep into added-time after Amy O'Connor sliced Wexford open again and set her free.

The Slaneysiders have little time to feel sorry for themselves. Given the circumstances, a knockout berth would be an achievement for this side, and the bid for that top three spot needs to start at home to Tipperary on Saturday week.

Wexford: Laura Brennan; Áine Lacey, Ciara Storey, Leanne Foley; Shauna Sinnott, Sarah O'Connor, Derbhla Doyle; Shelley Kehoe (capt.), Linda Bolger (0-6, 4 frees, 1 '45); Ciara O'Connor, Jackie Quigley, Kate Kirwan; Stacey Kehoe (0-1), Joanne Dillon, Lauren Murphy. Subs. - Katie O'Connor for S. O'Connor, inj. (40), Sorcha Foley for Murphy (53), also Emma Kiely, Aoife McCrea, Orla Molloy, Megan Cullen, Emma O'Connor, Michelle Kehoe.

Cork: Aoife Murray (capt.); Leanne O'Sullivan, Laura Tracey, Libby Coppinger; Pamela Mackey, Gemma O'Connor (0-1), Chloe Sigerson (0-1 free); Julia White, Ashling Thompson (0-2); Linda Collins, Orla Cronin (0-4, 2 frees), Amy O'Connor (0-5); Hannah Looney (0-1), Niamh McCarthy, Katrina Mackey (1-3). Subs. - Niamh O'Callaghan for O'Sullivan (47), Lauren Homan (0-2) for Collins (48).

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).

Wexford People

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