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Saturday 24 August 2019

Wexford bow out of top tier

Camogie: Offaly 4-15 Wexford 1-6

Chloe Foxe, who scored four of Wexford’s consolation points from placed balls
Chloe Foxe, who scored four of Wexford’s consolation points from placed balls

Dean Goodison in Hawkfield

Wexford could potentially still face the likes of Cork, Kilkenny and Galway in next season's National Camogie League, but it will be their second string sides after the Slaneysiders suffered the ignominy of relegation to Division 2 in Hawkfield on Saturday.

Both of these sides finished bottom of their respective groups, but that was where the similarities ended as Offaly were superb in how they went about their business, whereas Wexford looked like a group that had never met each other prior to the bus ride up.

In a way that is hardly surprising, given the lack of training they have had since the start of the season, but any hopes of a quick jolt of cohesiveness under new management were blown away by a clinical Faithful side in the first-half.

Indeed, this might well have been the worst Wexford performance of the season, given the fact that their opponents are not exactly All-Ireland contenders. It also shines a glaring spotlight on the debacle of six days earlier when Barry Kennedy's side refused to play on artificial turf.

Apart from Wexford doing nothing to suggest the six days extra helped in any way, and the fact that it was a financial burden for both counties, the whole situation clearly had a bigger impact on Offaly.

They took their simmering anger out on Wexford as they blitzed into a 2-11 to nil lead after just 22 minutes.

Everything was working for Offaly in that spell, as they were on top in defence and their attackers were able to find pockets of space and score at will.

While Wexford now reportedly have a list of 30 names that have made themselves available to play Senior camogie this summer, they had nothing like that number for this game, and many of those that did play have a lot of work to do to get up to the pace of the game at this level.

There was only four minutes on the clock when Christine Cleary hared away on the right of goal and flashed to the net to give Offaly a 1-2 to nil lead.

Offaly summed up their superiority when Ann Marie Guinan won possession in her own full-back line and started a move that ended with Michaela Morkan notching a cracking score from midfield.

Wexford had no answer for Arlene Watkins, and her three points sent Offaly further into the clear. Sarah Walsh and Jean Brady also registered, but Cleary's second goal was even more damaging as the lead swelled to 17 points with eight minutes left in the first-half.

After showing nothing beforehand, Wexford were the better team for the final eight minutes of the period.

Chloe Foxe pointed a couple of dead-balls while Mags Byrne forced Ellie Clendennen into a sharp stop between the Offaly sticks.

Trailing by 2-11 to 0-2 heading into the second-half, Wexford needed a quick start with the advantage of the elements. They managed to get it when Mags Byrne picked up a loose ball and raced away to net.

Critically, Offaly marched up the other end where Watkins was fouled by Emma Kiely for a penalty, and Mairéad Teehan forced her powerful shot into the net. Wexford still had their moments in the third quarter but managed just a couple more points from Byrne and Foxe.

There was no room for error for Wexford, but their bright start to the second-half ended when Siobhán Flannery pointed in the 47th minute. She added another soon after before Watkins rounded off a fine performance with a kicked major as Offaly moved 4-14 to 1-4 up.

Michelle Kehoe came off the bench to tap over a 59th-minute score for Wexford, and Foxe added her second '45 of the half but it only marginally helped a scoreline that had long since got out of hand.

Manager Barry Kennedy now has eight weeks to make an impact. These sides meet again in the Leinster Senior championship quarter-finals on May 11 at an Offaly venue, and the winner will host Laois in the last four.

Wexford: Emma Kiely; Clodagh Jackman, Ciara Storey, Sorcha Foley; Shauna Sinnott (capt.), Amy Cardiff, Mary Barrett; Una Sinnott, Joanne Dillon; Mags Byrne (1-1), Linda Bolger, Chloe Foxe (0-4, 2 frees, 2 '45s); Lauren Murphy, Orla Molloy, Lettie Whelan. Subs. - Emma Walsh for Foley (25), Katie Kenny for Kiely, inj. (38), Foley for Whelan (50), Michelle Kehoe (0-1) for Molloy (52).

Offaly: Ellie Clendennen; Ann Marie Guinan, Triona McDonald (capt.), Mary Teehan; Róisín Egan, Michaela Morkan (0-1), Ciara Brennan; Sarah Walsh (0-1), Aisling Brennan; Orlagh Kirwan, Mairéad Teehan (1-2, 1-0 pen., 0-2 frees), Arlene Watkins (1-5); Christine Cleary (2-2), Siobhán Flannery (0-2, 1 free), Jean Brady (0-2). Subs. - Becky Bryant for Kirwan (55), Alanna Roddy for C. Brennan (58), Aoife Walsh for Watkins (60).

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).

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