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Sunday 19 November 2017

Super victory for U-16 girls

Wexford 2-11 Dublin 2-8

Selfie time in the Wexford dressing-room after Saturday's marvellous victory in Limerick
Selfie time in the Wexford dressing-room after Saturday's marvellous victory in Limerick

An incredible Wexford summoned all their quality to see off Dublin in the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick, on Saturday and advance to the All-Ireland Under-16 'A' camogie title decider.

This fairytale wasn't in the script when the Slaneysiders lost their opening two group games to Cork and Tipperary, but bringing years of under-age mediocrity to an end was hardly going to happen the easy way.

Again Anais Curran was the scorer-in-chief with 1-8. Dublin had plans to halt the red hot form of Oulart-The Ballagh's devastating forward, including doubling up on her, but there's just no stopping her at the moment.

Yet like recent weeks, one star performer can't do it on her own and, much like seven days earlier in Bellefield when they beat Clare to make the knockout stages, Wexford played like a team possessed.

They ran, hooked, blocked, they put body and mind on the line in a game of high intensity and rugged physicality.

It's a type of game that suits Wexford and having a referee that will let the sides battle fairly, like Kildare's Ray Kelly, is vitally important.

Dublin can't have expected this. They beat Wexford by a comfortable ten points in the Leinster championship back in April but this team has shown huge improvement in recent weeks and the Metropolitans were the latest to feel their force.

The craziness of sending Wexford and Dublin all the way to Limerick to meet probably had a greater early impact on the Slaneysiders as they were a little slower out of the blocks in the first quarter.

Curran scored three early points for her side but Dublin put six on the board in the first 15 minutes. However, Aoife Mahon had a hugely important part to play in the first-half with several quality saves when Wexford were under the cosh.

If the early points didn't tell Dublin what they were up against, when Curran drifted out to the corner, flew past her two watchers and drilled low to the net to level the game, the cat was out of the bag.

No sooner had Wexford got level than Dublin won a penalty. Cue Dublin's Aoife Mahon against Wexford's, but neither won the battle because Ciara O'Connor stopped the penalty and her side cleared.

The save lifted the Slaneysiders and they took the lead through Curran in the 21st minute. Katie Smyth popped over her first score to make it 1-5 to 0-6 but Mahon responded at the other end.

Undoubtedly the first-half belonged to Curran and it finished how it started, with another point from the unstoppable teen. The score gave Wexford a 1-6 to 0-7 interval lead and left them in a great position heading into the second-half.

Kate Kirwan became scorer number three for Wexford six minutes into the second period to put a goal between the sides. Hollyn Kennedy responded at the other end before eleven minutes of energy-sapping camogie passed until Ciara Walsh upped the lead to a goal again (1-8 to 0-8).

Curran picked off a pair of frees to make the advantage five and the game looked over when Smyth plucked in a long ball forward and drilled low to the Dublin net as the game ticked into added time.

Laura Quinn hit back immediately as Wexford's fine resistance finally buckled at the other end. Still, Curran nailed a stunning point from out towards the sideline to give her side a six-point lead (2-11 to 1-8).

Dublin sensed the improbable when Hollyn Kennedy rattled home her side's second major in two minutes to leave just one strike of the ball between the teams, but with four minutes extra already played there was no time left for the Dubs and Wexford took a deserved victory.

The All-Ireland final will take place on August 27 at a venue to be confirmed.

Wexford will only know their opponents on Wednesday evening as the other semi-final between Galway and Cork was postponed after the death of Tony Keady, whose daughter is on the westerners' panel.

Wexford: Aoife Mahon; Tara Doyle, Amy Cahill, Laura Doran; Róisín Parker, Ciara O'Connor, Lorna Fortune; Ciara Walsh (0-1), Kate Kirwan (0-1); Megan Cullen, Katie Smyth (1-1), Amy O'Leary; Eimear Byrne, Anais Curran (1-8, 0-3 frees), Aisling Alouf. Subs. - Emma Dempsey for Byrne (40), also Sophie Roche, Shauna O'Leary, Doireann Cullen, Aoife Dempsey, Siobhán Sinnott, Amy Mitten, Lauren Murphy, Eimear O'Connor, Leanne Rowe, Mollie Somers, Amy Cousins, Kate Foley, Elena Kenny.

Dublin: Ali Ramsden; Caitlin Coffey, Siún Keating, Hannah Leddy; Jody Couch, Molly Brown, Celine Atancio; Niamh Gannon, Aoife Mahon (0-3); Olivia Magher, Kim Hickey (0-1), Anna Geraghty; Gaby Couch, Hollyn Kennedy (1-2), Laura Quinn (1-2). Subs. - Gráinne O'Driscoll for Geraghty (31), Katie McDonald for Hickey (60+1).

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).

Wexford People

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