Seven-up for Youths ladies
Kilkenny put to the sword
Wexford Youths picked up their first win of the Continental Tyres Women's National League season against a struggling Kilkenny side in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday evening last.
Wexford Youths 7 Kilkenny United 0
In truth, it could have been double that figure as Youths wasted a hatful of clear-cut opportunities. That, along with the major problem the Wexford attack had with their opponents pretty basic offside trap, put paid to any chance of matching the twelve goals of last season's corresponding fixture.
With Kylie Murphy, Aisling Frawley, Lauren Dwyer and Amy Walsh out, Wexford manager Gary Hunt was forced to re-shuffle his side's starting line-up from their Champions League campaign.
Into the team came Chelsee Snell, Aoibhín Webb and Becky Cassin, all three making their first start since the disappointing loss to Peamount in the second league game of the season.
This was always likely to be more comfortable than that evening in Greenogue. United had averaged seven goals against and none for in their three previous games and those stats remain unchanged after this encounter.
Kilkenny did their best work in the opening quarter. They started with good energy and were able to put Youths under pressure in midfield. However, after a few close offside calls, the hosts took the lead when Linda Douglas' looping header crossed the line before Claire O'Riordan got a touch.
The goal settled Wexford who looked to beat Kilkenny's high line both through the middle, and down the flanks. Maria Delahunty broke away but shot wide in the 24th minute but Youths didn't have to wait long for their second goal.
Emma Hansberry is perfectly suited to that Xabi Alonso role of picking long, accurate through-balls from the centre of midfield. The former Castlebar player sent Linda Douglas away on left, the Wexford winger slipped O'Riordan clear and she did the rest, side-stepping Cliona Murphy before firing to the rigging.
More great work by Douglas got O'Riordan away again in the 38th minute, she was initially stalled but managed to square the ball to Becky Cassin. However, the Youths midfielder scuffed her shot with the goal gaping.
Webb raced away but saw her shot smothered by Murphy three minutes before the interval. The pressure was building when Webb's header from a Linda Douglas centre was deflected over the crossbar.
From the resulting Hansberry corner Claire O'Riordan headed across goal and into the empty net. The third goal meant it was really only a matter of how many Wexford would score in the second half.
Hansberry saw her powerful shot from the edge of the box well saved by Murphy. There was nothing the Kilkenny goalkeeper could do to deny Delahunty from turning home a right-wing Douglas cross in the 50th minute.
Two minutes later Webb sent Claire O'Riordan away and the Limerick native completed her hat-trick with a calm, low finish. Hansberry then almost made it six with another drilled effort.
Kilkenny rarely threatened but did create one chance in the second half. A nice passing triangle got Niamh Kelly away, her shot was arrowing towards the top corner but Sophie Lenehan, making her league debut, made a tricky save look routine.
Hansberry got away on the right but miscontrolled when in on Murphy's goal. Cassin missed another great chance in front of goal and Douglas saw a powerful strike saved before O'Riordan got her fourth - finishing with her knee from Hansberry's corner.
Youths had many other chances to score between that 62nd minute goal and their seventh, ten minutes from time. O'Riordan, Douglas and Rachel Hutchinson were all denied by Murphy and substitute Orla Casey drilled a couple of sighters wide and over.
When the final goal came it was a little bit special. Hansberry cut in from the left, with the 'keeper coming towards her she scooped the ball up and over Murphy with enough pace to beat the last Kilkenny defender to the goalline.
The last ten minutes were quiet enough as Leanne Tumelty and Sinead Gaynor got the chance to get a rare runout.
Manager Gary Hunt wouldn't have learned a massive amount from this clash but at least it's a first win on the board and several fringe players got a run.
If referee Michelle O'Neill learns that it's not a free-kick when a ball is blasted at, and hits, a hand in a natural position, from two yards away, no matter how loudly the bench screams, then that will be another positive to come out of this runaround.
Next up for Youths is a home cup quarter-final against league high-flyers Galway.
That game is scheduled for this Sunday afternoon with a 2pm kick-off.
WEXFORD YOUTHS: Sophie Lenehan; Nicola Sinnott (capt), Jessica Gleeson, Chelsee Snell; Aoibhín Webb, Emma Hansberry, Rachel Hutchinson, Becky Cassin, Linda Douglas; Maria Delahunty; Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Orla Casey for Webb (62), Leanne Tumelty for Snell (73), Sinead Gaynor for Hutchinson (80), also, Tamara Furlong, Shauna Wall, Aoife Prendergast, Kylie Murphy.
KILKENNY: Cliona Murphy; Kayla Farrell, Beth Carroll, Shianne Suawrez, Alanna Dolan; Katie Ryan, Clodhna Ní Shí, Aislinn Carroll, Kesha Tobin, Jenny O'Keefe; Niamh Kelly. Subs. - Ally O'Keefe for Ryan (46), Ciara Delaney for Ní Shí (46), Hannah Scott for Dolan (55), also, Sarah Foley, Suzi Byrne, Casey Hennessey.
REFEREE: Michelle O'Neill.