Step too far for Wexford
Lilles cruise to final place
Kildare proved a little too good for Wexford in the TG4 Leinster Intermediate ladies' football championship semi-final at Hawkfield on Sunday.
Kildare 4-11 Wexford 0-6
The Lilywhite women plied their trade at Senior level last year while Wexford were winning the Junior All-Ireland title, so this match-up was always likely to be a step too high for Shane McCormack's young team.
However, they gave a good account of themselves, particularly for the first three quarters. Eventually the power of the physically imposing Kildare forward told but all in all there were plenty of positives to take from a hard-fought provincial last four clash.
The Slaneysiders have concentrated this term on making themselves a difficult team to play against. The flamboyancy that took them to the All-Ireland might have gone but it's been replaced by a sturdier defensive unit.
That system was tested as the hosts set about dampening the Wexford mood early. Róisín Byrne opened the scoring for Kildare after Aisling Holton was fouled before Grace Clifford burst through but fired wide of Bríd Byrne's post.
Another foul on Holton, who was a big and forceful presence in midfield, allowed Triona Duggan to notch her first point and Byrne quickly fired her second to make it 0-3 to nil to the home side after ten minutes.
Things got worse for Wexford when Duggan was taken down by Marica Cullen, who was sin-binned, and the Kildare hot-shot clinically stroked home the resulting penalty.
Still, a first quarter when too many Wexford dead ball passes went astray started to turn around when Maria Byrne was fouled and Chantelle Martin sent over a booming free from fully 40 metres out.
Clifford popped over her side's fourth point in the 20th minute and was more than a little disgusted when she was substituted six minutes later. However, her replacement would go on to tear the hearts out of Wexford after the break.
The visitors grabbed their second point through Róisín Murphy with eight minutes of the half remaining but got a little lucky seconds later when Mikaela McKenna's effort sailed over Byrne, cracked the post and rolled back into the 'keeper's grateful arms.
Wexford were building momentum towards the end of the period and deservedly got within four (1-4 to 0-3) in the final minute when good build-up play between Maria Byrne, Martin and Murphy resulted in Marcella Cullen finding the target.
Duggan flashed over under pressure from Bríd Byrne four minutes after the re-start but Niamh Moore, who seemed to pop up everywhere in the second-half, quickly responded for her side.
Kilmore starlet Moore was fouled from behind, which saw Paula Keatley sin-binned in the 36th minute, and impeded again four minutes later as Maria Byrne floated over the resulting free to narrow the deficit to three (1-5 to 0-5).
That was as good as it got for Wexford who, moments after Duggan pointed, conceded a second penalty that the nippy corner-forward converted after Róisín Byrne was hauled down with 18 minutes remaining.
Points and goals followed at regular intervals in the final quarter as Wexford really struggled to keep possession. A McKenna point was added to by Maria Moolick's first goal to make the score 3-7 to 0-5.
Byrne lofted over a free for Kildare and Moolick smashed home for the second time with eight minutes remaining. Eadaoin Connolly, Holton and Byrne all hit the target as time ran out.
Wexford did have a chance for a consolation goal when Maria Byrne was fouled for a penalty but Rebecca McGuirk easily saved Martin's poor effort.
Katie Redmond did point after the ball was recycled from the rebound but it was little help to the outcome as her side heads to the All-Ireland qualifiers.
Wexford: Bríd Byrne; Maeve Quill, Marica Cullen, Georgina Hearn; Ciara Neville, Marguerite Doyle, Caoimhe Denton; Róisín Murphy (capt., 0-1), Maria Byrne (0-1 free); Kellie Kearney, Marcella Cullen (0-1), Ellen O'Brien; Chantelle Martin (0-1 free), Caitríona Murray, Niamh Moore (0-1). Subs. - Danielle Chin for Denton (19), Katie Redmond (0-1) for Marcella Cullen (35), Sandra Thorpe for Hearn (51).
Kildare: Rebecca McGuirk; Tara Hallinan, Naoise Berry, Rachel Reidy; Ashling Curley, Aisling Savage, Paula Keatley; Joanna Timmins, Aisling Holton (capt., 0-1); Eadaoin Connelly (0-1), Róisín Byrne (0-3 frees), Grace Clifford (0-1); Ellen Dowling, Mikaela McKenna (0-1), Triona Duggan (2-4, 2-0 pens., 0-3 frees). Subs. - Maria Moolick (2-0) for Clifford (26), Rachael Corrigan for Reidy (47), Niamh Mulhall for Dowling (52), Ailish Heavey for Hallinan (59), Caoimhe O Fearghail for McKenna (59).
Referee: Antóin Keating (Dublin).