By Daragh O Conchúir
WEXFORD joint manager John Kelly says that the players are treating their final Group 2 tie in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship as a knockout game.
Following their five-point defeat of Tipperary at Innovate Wexford Park last Saturday, the Yellowbellies are in second position but could still lose out on qualification to the quarter-finals – which is available to second and third in each group – if they were beaten by Limerick by six points this weekend and Offaly overcame Tipperary.
Neither is an impossibility but a win in Bruff on Saturday would remove all doubt for Wexford.
“Limerick beat Tipp and won a Munster Final” says Kelly, who is co-manager with Matty Flynn O’Connor.
“They’re not going to be any pushovers. We’ll have to be on top of our game going down to Limerick. We’re treating it as knockout Championship. Every game since the Cork game has been like that. It’s in your own hands.”
The Cork game he refers to was a disconcerting experience, as the Rebels had 18 points to spare in Páirc Uí Rinn at the beginning of the month. That placed real significance on the Tipp clash and the players answered the call, especially in the second half, when Orla O’Dwyer and Ereena Fryday plundered two second-half goals.
“It was a big win after going down to Cork and getting a good beating. Tipp last year for us was a sticky one down in Waterford and we were dodgy going into it but the girls hurled very well and did what we wanted them to do.
“When they got back level with us you would be a bit shy but we came down the field and got the next score. Chloe (Foxe) came on and got a great point and we seemed to lift it. There is a great spirit in the team. They’re young. There’s still a few of the older crew there – not much of them now – but it is a help. There are some good, young girls coming through the county and the further we can go in this Championship, it will stand to them.”
Foxe wasn’t risked from the start having injured her hamstring against Cork but scored 1-2 off the bench and like Joanne Dillon, has had a big impact in a panel that lost even more experience this year, though Kelly’s legendary sister Kate is remains a welcome figure in the background, passing on some of her wisdom to the new crop that represent the future.
“You know what you’re going to get out of the Leacys and the Kehoes. You can rely on them all the time. It’s what you get out of the younger players will determine how you go in the Championship.
“We have lost Katrina Parrock, Mags D’Arcy and Kate this year, another three massive players. Those players are not replaced overnight but you have to battle on. All good things come to an end and we have to find the next ones.”