By Daragh Ë Conch·ir
Wexford put their recent history of agonising semi-final defeats behind them with a commanding second half performance to book a berth in the Gala All-Ireland senior camogie final in front of 3,082 people at Nowlan Park.
After ending a 22-year famine when they took the ultimate honours in 2007, the Model women were keen to add more titles.
That ambition has foundered at the penultimate stage in subsequent seasons though, with Galway denying them by a late goal in 2008 and Kilkenny doing likewise last term.
It was the Black and Amber in front of them again this time so there was no absence of motivation, especially as Kilkenny had already beaten them in the round-robin stages.
Ann Downey’s young team wouldn’t have been lacking in that department either though, given that they had lost the league final to Wexford by the minimum margin. And there was a place in the All-Ireland final up for grabs.
It threatened to turn into The Ann Dalton Show early on as the Kilkenny captain scored the opening three points, the first from a free and the latter pair from 45s.
Wexford’s greater physical presence enabled them to gradually claw themselves back into proceedings however and with Ursula Jacob slotting six points from placed balls, they led at half time by 0-8 to 0-7.
The advantage should have been greater as Wexford shot six wides into the wind while Kilkenny only had one.
There were also two excellent goal opportunities that went abegging, as skipper Una Leacy failed to see Ursula Jacob and Katrina Parrock unattended inside her on separate occasions. She did snap a point herself though.
It was Kilkenny’s radar that was well and truly off in the second half however. They hit seven wides in that period, including three from Dalton, who had looked faultless early on.
Such profligacy is never a good idea against a defence that has such powerful figures right through its spine, from goalkeeper Mags D’Arcy through full-back Catherine O’Loughlin and onto the outstanding centre-back Mary Leacy.
Indeed the Cats only managed three points in the second half, from Dalton, Katie Power and a Michelle Quilty free until Denise Gaule struck for an injury time goal.
By that stage though, it was too little too late for the Cats as Wexford had rammed home three goals in the final quarter to put the game to bed.
A clever diagonal ball from Una Leacy found Kate Kelly in the 46th minute and the former dual player transferred in a flash to Katrina Parrock, whose thunderous drive was parried by Catriona Ryan but the sliotar just trickled over the line.
Two minutes later, Parrock returned the favour with a sensational low delivery into the path of the onrushing centre-forward, who didn’t have to break stride before pulling first time to shake the rigging.
When Kelly’s speculative shot from 35m skidded off the turf into the Kilkenny net, the Model girls’ progression was confirmed.
Scorers – Wexford: U Jacob 0-8(6fs, 1 45); K Kelly 2-2; K Parrock 1-0; J Dwyer, U Leacy 0-1 each
Kilkenny: A Dalton 0-4(1f, 2 45s); D Gaule 1-0; M Quilty (2fs), A Farrell, K Power 0-2 each; C Dormer 0-1
Wexford: M D’Arcy; C O’Connor, C O’Loughlin, K Atkinson; N Lambert, M Leacy, A O’Connor; J Dwyer, D Codd; U Leacy, K Kelly, M O’Leary; K Parrock, U Jacob, F Kavanagh. Subs: B Gordon for O’Leary (48); E Quigley for Kelly (57-58); Quigley for Kavanagh (59)
Kilkenny: C Ryan; L Lyng, C Doherty, J Frisby; E Keane, L Fennelly, E Aylward; A Farrell, A Dalton; M Quilty, A Neary, K Power; C Dormer, S Farrell, M Dargan. Subs: K Hamilton for Dargan (36); A Butler for Fennelly (45); D Gaule 1-0 for Dormer (52); A Dunphy for Farrell (55)
Referee: F McNamara (Clare)