Seconds denied by lack of composure in good positions
THE RETURN to the fold of several of last year's All-Ireland winning team wasn't enough to give the Wexford Intermediate camogie side an opening round win in The Ragg on Saturday last.
After dalliances with the Senior squad throughout the league, Colleen Atkinson, Tracey Nolan, the Kehoe twins, and Soaring Star recipients Ciara O'Connor and Frances Doran all decided to take the step back for regular playing time and it certainly led to a much-improved performance.
Indeed, the visitors should have claimed their first win of the year. After a hard-fought first-half Wexford dominated the second with the breeze at their backs and, had it not been for a lack of composure in front of goal, they would have claimed a vital two points.
The hosts were clearly up for the fight and started brightly. Aoife Moloughney pierced the uprights to open the scoring and, while Ciara O'Connor replied from a free after a foul on Tracey Nolan, the Tipperary corner-forward soon grabbed the game's only goal.
Aoife Shinners' long free fell perfectly for Moloughney to fire into the roof of the net from close range to leave Tipperary ahead (1-1 to 0-1), but Wexford hit back inside 60 seconds when O'Connor neatly added her second.
A quick double - a Shinners free and a nice score from Bríd Quinn - kept the home crowd happy and despite O'Connor replying again with a close-range free for Wexford, Maria Ryan made the lead a game-high four (1-4 to 03) in the 18th minute.
Jackie Quigley broke through the middle to scoop over a point moments after Ryan's minor and two further Ciara O'Connor frees more than cancelled out Shinners' second point of the game to leave Wexford two down at the interval (1-5 to 0-6).
The introduction of Eimear O'Connor and Shelley Kehoe strengthened Wexford early in the second-half and they pulled level by the 38th minute after points six and seven from the hurl of O'Connor.
Shelley Kehoe fired Wexford in front for the first time at the midpoint of the half, however the lead lasted mere seconds as Moloughney pointed from just outside the '45 to end a 20-minute barren spell for the Premier girls.
Hard work down the right by Susie McGovern and Tracey Nolan eventually led to Jackie Quigley hitting the post but Nolan soon pointed after strong work by Shauna Sinnott to edge Wexford clear again (0-10 to 1-6).
Ciara O'Connor jinked through the home side's rearguard only to fire into the side-netting with eight minutes remaining, and Wexford were made to pay for their profligacy when Shinners levelled three minutes later.
The Slaneysiders threw everything at Tipperary in the closing minutes, and looked to have forced the ball to the net when Jackie Quigley got on the end of Susie McGovern's centre.
However, the referee decided he'd already awarded a free in the scramble in the goalmouth and when Ciara O'Connor mis-hit the placed ball from in front of the posts, a relieved Tipperary cleared to salvage a scarcelydeserved draw.
Wexford now know a win will be needed against Cork on Saturday or the road to a third successive All-Ireland final will become very murky.
The double bill against the Leesiders will go ahead in Bellefield, with the Intermediate game at 1.30 p.m. and the Senior encounter at 3.15 p.m.