Offaly put end to slim hopes
Wexford slump to third loss
Wexford avoided a last place finish in the National Camogie League Division 1 Group 1 on points difference as they slumped to their third loss of the season against Offaly in Birr on Sunday.
Offaly 1-12 Wexford 0-13
The Slaneysiders had a mathematical chance of progression to the semi-finals going into the game, but as results panned out the best they could have managed was a third place finish in the table behind Galway and Tipperary.
After another weak performance against a jittery Offaly side, who themselves seemed to lack confidence at times, managers John Kelly and Matty Flynn-O'Connor have a lot of work to do if their side is to avoid a disappointing championship campaign.
This Wexford team has managed just one scrappy goal, coming from a free that bounced around inside the square, in five games now and that is simply not going to get it done come June and the All-Ireland series.
It would be remiss to expect miracles from youngsters who have already improved this year, but it's a steep learning curve with no hiding place out there against the best in the game.
Yet it's not all on the players, as with Wexford trailing by two in added time a ball was pumped into the large rectangle. Not one visiting player was within 30 metres of goal, and the best goalscorer in the club championship last season was standing watching on the sideline.
It didn't start as badly as it ended for Wexford who scored the opening point through Shelley Kehoe in the first minute. Michaela Morkan registered two dead-balls at the other end before Linda Bolger levelled for her side.
After Morkan added her third point, Katrina Parrock pulled a shot onto the post after a fumble by the suspect Helen Dolan. Things might have been different had that gone in, but it didn't and soon the hosts were taking advantage of the breeze.
Morkan pointed again before Siobhán Flannery scored the first of two points from inside her own '65. Bolger's second point momentarily halted the momentum but further raised white flags by Debbie Flynn and Lisa Gorman made it 0-7 to 0-3 after 21 minutes.
After Bolger scored a '45, Offaly really hurt Wexford when Flynn's long ball into the edge of the '20 was caught and dispatched to the roof of Laura Brennan's net by the dangerous Arlene Watkins.
Placed balls late in the half from Flannery and Morkan left Wexford with a mountain to climb after the interval - trailing by eight (1-9 to 0-4).
A hail shower at half-time saw the wind drop for a while and Offaly held their own for the first ten minutes of the second period.
Bolger got her fourth after she was fouled but Watkins tapped over a penalty after being whacked across the shins by Karen Atkinson to leave Offaly 1-10 to 0-5 ahead after 40 minutes.
Finally, between the 42nd and 51st minutes Wexford got on a roll, scoring six unanswered points. Between two Bolger points, Shelley Kehoe grabbed a super score following a lovely one-two with her twin, Stacey.
Again Bolger picked off a brace of frees, the second of which was followed moments later by a classy Stacey Kehoe point from the left wing. Four minutes passed without another score as Wexford lost their momentum.
Michaela Morkan broke the scoring hiatus with her sixth point with five minutes left, but Bolger did respond with a nice effort from play two minutes later. Shelley Kehoe then followed with her third point less than 60 seconds later and Wexford were within one (1-11 to 0-13).
However, when Watkins was fouled 30 metres from goal, Morkan held her nerve to re-establish a two-point lead that Offaly comfortably held. Wexford will not return to competitive action until they host Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final on May 22.
Wexford: Laura Brennan; Ciara Storey, Karen Atkinson, Louise O'Leary; Louise Sinnott, Síona Nolan, Shauna Sinnott (capt.); Shelley Kehoe (0-3), Emma Walsh; Joanne Dillon, Deirdre Codd, Stacey Kehoe (0-1); Linda Bolger (0-9, 6 frees, 1 '45), Katrina Parrock, Chloe Foxe. Subs. - Doireann Kavanagh for O'Leary (43), Marie Morrissey for Dillon (47), Leah Walsh for Foxe (55), also Margaret Byrne, Mags D'Arcy, Jackie Quigley.
Offaly: Helen Dolan; Fiona Stephens, Jean Brady, Deirdre Cashen; Aisling Brennan, Siobhán Flannery (0-2 frees), Marian Crean; Debbie Flynn (0-1), Christine Cleary; Linda Sullivan, Lorraine Keena, Michaela Morkan (capt., 0-7, 5 frees, 1 '45); Lisa Gorman (0-1), Arlene Watkins (1-1, 0-1 pen.), Tina Hannon. Subs. - Eimear Mooney for Sullivan (44), Orlagh Kirwan for Cleary (55), Ann Marie Guinan for Hannon (59).
Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).