Winning start under Elmes
Wexford Youths 5 Limerick F.C. 0
Peamount this, Peamount that, all the talk has been about Peamount in the lead up to the Continental Tyres Women's National League season.
Well, Pea-off was the message in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday as Wexford Youths thumped Limerick to remind everyone who the champions actually are.
It was the first time Wexford scored at least five times in the league since they smashed six past a woeful Kilkenny under the guidance of Gary Hunt in November, 2016. It was, quite simply, a statement victory.
After a season of stagnant performances, lacking in the 'Wexford way', the hosts came out of their shell under new boss Tom Elmes. If there were any questions over why the players wanted a change of direction, they were clearly answered as they glistened with quality across the park.
Limerick came into the game with a great deal of self-belief after beating Kilkenny in their opener and almost snagging a point off of Cork, only to go down to a late Saoirse Noonan winner. However, this was a different level entirely.
The most beautiful thing about this win wasn't any of the goals, it wasn't even the eye-opening performance of newbie Becky Conroy, it was the movement. The joy of unrestricted movement in midfield, with runners coming from everywhere, was a sight to behold.
Shackled under instruction, under weight of defensive duty, this performance was never allowed to happen last season. Most of the pawns were there but the nous to piece together this type of tactical gameplan simply wasn't.
It bodes well for what's ahead - bigger tests. And they will get no bigger than the next league game against Peamount at Ferrycarrig on April 14. What a match that promises to be, even this early in the season.
Youths actually set up in a similar formation to how they finished last season but it was obvious within minutes that this was a different beast.
O'Riordan tested Trish Fennelly with a header after a run and cross by Conroy in the second minute before the Wexford striker broke the offside trap on the right, only to fire across goal and wide.
Kylie Murphy didn't needed a second invitation when coolly slotting home from Nicola Sinnott's through ball in the twelfth minute to open the scoring. O'Riordan got in again a minute later but her touch was a little heavy and Fennelly gained control.
When Ciara Rossiter's cross from the left was fumbled by the Limerick goalkeeper in the 24th minute, Rianna Jarrett arrived on cue and nodded home to make it two.
Then, 15 minutes before the break, Orlaith Conlon's header was cleared off the line.
After a quiet few minutes, Wexford made it three on the stroke of half-time when Jarrett reacted quickest again to poke home a rebound after Fennelly failed to hold a rasping drive by Becky Conroy.
A mixture of the pace of the game this early in the season, and a nasty injury to Ciara Rossiter that saw her depart on a stretcher in the 53rd minute, took the wind out of the Wexford sails. However, they were still comforable and never in trouble.
Hard work by O'Riordan forced a defensive mistake by Tara Mannix, and Conroy took full advantage by curling a sublime effort over the stranded Fennelly, from the left wing and into the net.
Orla Casey slipped O'Riordan away down the right in the 79th minute, and the Limerick native cut inside and finished with her left foot to make it 5-0.
Wexford came within inches of adding a sixth when Megan Kelleher headed onto her own crossbar in added time, but the win was long-since secure.
Wexford Youths: Sophie Lenehan; Nicola Sinnott, Lauren Dwyer, Orlaith Conlon, Ciara Rossiter; Edel Kennedy; Becky Conroy, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Aoibhín Webb; Rianna Jarrett; Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Rebekah Carroll for Rossiter, inj. (53), Becky Cassin for Kennedy (61), Orla Casey for Jarrett (73), also Ciara Delaney, Ciamh Dollard, Amy Walsh, Katrina Parrock.
Limerick: Trish Fennelly; Carys Johnson, Tara Mannix, Marie Curtin, Rebecca Mahon; Sylvia Gee; Claire Kelly, Megan Kelleher, Rebecca Horgan, Lauren Keane; Chloe Connolly. Subs. - Aisling O'Connor for Mahon, inj. (31), Megan Carroll for Kelly (64), Sophie Gleeson for Keane (78), also Sabrina McCarthy, Sophie Hudner, Alanna Morris, Karen Connolly.
Referee: Nicky Boland.