Clever O'Riordan goal ends campaign on a positive note
A clever Claire O'Riordan header ensured Wexford Youths ended their Continental Tyres Women's National League season on a high as they edged out a dogged Cork City outfit in Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday.
Wexford Youths 1 Cork City 0
The winning goal came with just ten minutes on the clock, when O'Riordan, who led the line well all afternoon, got on the end of a pinpoint left wing cross from Aisling Frawley and looped a header out of the reach of Cork goalkeeper Amanda Budden.
The hosts struggled to build on their bright start though and it almost came back to haunt them as Cork City grew into the game, and they were left clinging on to their lead by their fingernails in a tense finish.
Wexford Youths were first to almost every ball in the early stages and were tigerish in their efforts to instantly win back possession, although Cork began to gain a foothold in the game midway through the first-half.
Ciara Desmond got their first shot on target in the 26th minute, after a neat one-two with Saoirse Noonan, but her curling strike was easily dealt with by Tamara Furlong.
However, the hosts came close to rocking them back on their heels moments later when Linda Douglas determinedly won the ball on the edge of the area and played in Claire O'Riordan, whose shot was well saved by the outstretched left leg of Cork netminder Amanda Budden.
Cork duo Danielle Sheehy and Lauren Homan both shot too close to goalkeeper Furlong from the edge of the area, while Saoirse Noonan fired a 30-yard free-kick narrowly over the crossbar, and at the other end O'Riordan ran on to a pass from Aisling Frawley but curled her attempt off target.
The second-half was almost a carbon copy of the first, with Wexford Youths bursting out of the blocks and looking the more threatening before Cork wrested back control.
The Youths carved open the Cork defence on 51 minutes, when Claire O'Riordan did brilliantly to turn and pick out the inrushing Kylie Murphy, but the captain's shot lacked the venom to trouble goalkeeper Budden.
In the 55th minute Cork had another sight of goal, but Danielle Sheehy arrowed a drive from the edge of the area narrowly wide of the left upright.
Wexford manufactured an opportunity to give themselves a bit of breathing space just before the hour mark, and predictably O'Riordan was at the heart of it, but Budden stood up well to deny the striker after she was put through by Amy Walsh.
Cork cranked up the pressure in the final 20 minutes with Saoirse Noonan a constant menace on the right flank, and the winger came close to making the breakthrough in the 75th minute.
Danielle Sheehy changed the point of the attack with a searching ball out to Lauren Homan, who delivered a dangerous cross, which Noonan headed wide.
Homan tried her luck four minutes later, but her effort was deflected wide for a corner, while substitute Valerie Mulcahy drove a free-kick inches over the bar in the 86th minute as Wexford held out for the win.
Following the game, manager Gary Hunt advised the club of his intention to step down.
'In his role both as a coach and a manager, Gary has been involved in unprecedented success for the club at a national level, and for his expertise, hard work and dedication during this period the club will always be grateful,' a statement on the Youths website said. 'We wish him the very best of luck in his future endeavours.'
Applications for the position should be sent via e-mail to the club Secretary, Barry Devereux, at email@example.com, to be received no later than Friday, December 16.
Wexford Youths: Tamara Furlong, Chelsee Snell, Nicola Sinnott, Orlaith Conlon, Amy Walsh, Linda Douglas, Emma Hansberry, Kylie Murphy, Aisling Frawley, Aoibhín Webb, Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Becky Cashin for Webb (77), Leanne Tumelty for Frawley (89), also Sophie Lenehan, Jess Gleeson, Aoife Prendergast, Clare Conlon, Sinéad Gaynor.
Cork City: Amanda Budden, Kate O'Donovan, Danielle Burke, Ciara McNamara, Maggie Duncliffe, Katie McCarthy, Ciara Desmond, Evelyn Daly, Lauren Homan, Danielle Sheehy, Saoirse Noonan. Subs. - Valerie Mulcahy for McCarthy (73), Nathalie O'Brien for Desmond (81), also Tara O'Gorman, Megan Kelleher, Shannon Carson, Eve Badana, Angie Carry.
Referee: Seamus Kelly.