Intermediates lose to Lilies
The Wexford Intermediates opened their Irish Daily Star National League Division 2 campaign against Kildare, last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists, in Coolgreany on Sunday.
Kildare 0-9 Wexford 2-2
The corresponding fixture in Hollymount last year saw the Lilywhites record a resounding victory, but the young and determined 2016 Wexford panel had their sights set firmly on getting the league off to a winning start.
The match started as a slow burner, with the wind dictating proceedings and most of the action happening between the two 45-metre lines for the first twelve minutes, before the in-form Susie O'Carroll put a free between the posts against the wind to get the scoreboard moving.
A few passages of play later, the speedy Mags Byrne picked up a long delivery and showed a clean pair of heels to the Kildare defence and let fly for a rasping goal on 15 minutes to spark the Wexford girls into life.
Geraldine Curtis, operating at full-forward, suffered a knee injury and was replaced by Oulart-The Ballagh's Aideen Brennan who got straight in on the goalscoring action following a short 45-metre free, with Wexford keeping the ball alive in the danger area.
Wexford's first point was registered by Deirdre McMahon who latched onto a loose ball spilled from a heavy tackle on the speedy Mags Byrne whose route towards the Kildare goal was abruptly cut short by Aoife Trant, who saw yellow for the foul.
Leah Walsh was fed by Emma Walsh and struck a sweet point as Wexford enjoyed a purple patch. The scoreboard now read 2-2 to 0-1 in Wexford's favour.
Moments later the opportunity to go eight points up was lost, as Byrne again caused problems for the Kildare defence and won a free which went unconverted. The score remained 2-2 to 0-1 at half-time.
Kildare came out to enjoy the advantage of the strong wind, however Wexford controlled the early possession and exchanges. Louise Stafford was replaced by Ellen Roche and her free following a foul on Emma Walsh almost resulted in Aideen Brennan netting her second goal, but Kildare snuffed out the threat just yards from the line.
Kildare then enjoyed the lion's share of possession for the next few passages of play. They began their scoring run following a bookable challenge by Nancy Dunphy just outside the 21-metre line, seeing Susie O'Carroll add her second point.
O'Carroll added points in the 36th and 39th minutes to bring the Kildare tally to 0-4.
It was in the final 12 minutes that the game slipped away from Wexford, as the Kildare forwards ran at a defence very accustomed to hearing the shrill of Andrew Larkin's whistle.
O'Carroll added pointed frees in the 48th and 50th minutes before Ellen Roche's free into the wind was collected from under the crossbar by Róisín O'Connell in the Kildare goal.
On the counter-attack, Cliodhna McSweeney pointed from play to see Kildare cut the Wexford lead to just one point with seven minutes to play.
O'Carroll brought the game level with another free with six minutes left, before she saw two frees sail wide and missed the opportunity to close out the game. Kildare's attacking ace did see her team take the lead as the game entered injury time with a huge free from the middle of the field, to all but wrap up the win for the travelling side.
A heavy shove on Patrice O'Gorman and the resultant free and run by Marie Claire Morrissey saw a chance arrive for Mags Byrne, but her shot flashed wide. Time expired before Wexford could mount another attack and they suffered a one-point loss despite an encouraging display.
Wexford: Kerrie Daly; Nancy Dunphy, Amy Ryan, Farren Byrne; Anna Whitty, Marie Claire Morrissey, Michelle Harding; Louise Stafford, Leah Walsh (0-1); Patrice O'Gorman, Deirdre McMahon (0-1), Rachel Collier; Emma Walsh, Geraldine Curtis, Margaret Byrne (1-0). Subs. - Aideen Brennan (1-0) for Curtis, inj., Ellen Roche for Stafford, Michelle Martin for Whitty, Niamh Walsh for Collier, Doireann Kavanagh for Harding.
Kildare: Róisín O'Connell; Aine Conway, Aoife Trant (capt.), Sinéad Gormley; Sarah Cribbin, Carol Nolan, Clodagh Flanagan; Hannah McDonnell, Louise Keatley; Susie O'Carroll (0-8), Noelle Earley, Émer Reilly; Cliondhna McSweeney (0-1), Regina Gorman, Ciara Egan.
Referee: Andrew Larkin (Cork).