Tough baptism for Under 16 side in loss to Offaly
Wexford got their All-Ireland Under-16 camogie championship campaign off to a losing start against a lively Offaly side in St. Brendan's Park, Birr on Sunday.
Offaly 4-11 Wexford 0-11
The hosts were in impressive form with talented full-forward Sarah Harding in particular proving difficult for the Slaneysiders to contain.
There were positives for the visitors, with Orla Crowe impressing when she was moved to midfield after the unfortunate Chloe Davis was injured.
St. Ibar's/Shelmalier clubwoman Jessie Harding played well in attack while Rebecca Doran was excellent between the sticks with several fine saves.
Offaly tested the Wexford stopper early but couldn't beat her as points from Rachel O'Brien and Sarah Harding opened up a lead.
Becky Walsh hit back for the visitors but the respite was short-lived as Harding grabbed her first goal in the 19th minute after Doran saved her initial shot.
Orla Maher and Harding eased the home side 1-4 to 0-1 ahead but Wexford responded as the half wore on and picked up scores from Jessie Harding and Becca Walsh.
The sides traded points, Mannion at one end, Harding at the other ,to leave four between them at the interval (1-5 to 0-4).
Wexford got off to the worst possible start in the second-half as Dara Hanamy's free was finished to the net by Sarah Kehoe. Hannah Larkin and Harding raised white flags for Offaly while Kehoe put the game to bed with her second goal in an eight-minute spell (3-7 to 0-4).
A great ball by Crowe, helped on by Walsh, gave Aoife Dunne the chance to get Wexford's first score of the second-half, which she took.
The point was followed by a Louise Savage point for Offaly but the Slaneysiders hit back with Becky Walsh finding the net.
From 3-8 to 1-5 with eleven minutes left, Offaly were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over with another 1-1 for Harding as well as a Kaitlin Kennedy point. Aoife Curran did score for Wexford in that spell but it wasn't enough to put a dent in a strong Offaly performance.
Next up for Wexford is a home game against Dublin (Sunday in Ferns) and a win is a must to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive.
Games away to Limerick and home to Tipperary follow on consecutive weekends thereafter, so it won't be getting any easier.
Wexford: Becca Dolan; Kaitlin Whelan-Kinsella, Emma Lacey, Aine Murphy; Orla Sinnott, Emma Furlong, Siobhán Fanning; Chloe Davis, Aoife Curran (capt., 0-1); Jessie Harding (0-2), Lettie Whelan, Lauren Finn; Becky Walsh (1-2), Orla Crowe, Clodagh Jackman. Subs. - Laura Kelly for Davis, inj. (22), Aoife Dunne (0-1) for Whelan (38), Alannah Davis for Furlong (47), Siofra Doyle for Jackman (53).
Offaly: Ellen Glligan; Helen Healy, Aoibhe Whelahan, Alana Roddy; Kate Bergin, Ciara Brennan (capt.), Sarah Guinan; Louise Savage (0-1), Rachael O'Brien (0-2); Hannah Larkin (0-1), Dara Hanamy, Louise Mannion (0-1); Sarah Kehoe (2-0), Sarah Harding (2-4), Orla Maher (0-1). Sub. - Kaitlin Kennedy (0-1).
Referee: John Dolan (Clare).