By Tomás McCarthy, at FBD Semple Stadium
Waterford are back where they belong according to captain Lorraine Bray. The Cappoquin midfielder lifted the Déise’s first piece of silverware in eight years a misty FBD Semple Stadium as last year’s All Ireland semi-finalists dispatched South East rivals Wexford in style by 1-22 to 1-6.
They won their six Division 1B games by a total of 91 points to get back to the top flight for 2024.
“That’s where we want to be playing camogie,” Bray said afterwards. “Hopefully, this is the start of it now. A brilliant win and a phenomenal effort from the girls out there today. We worked for each other the whole way through the game. Even when we knew we were ahead, we kept going, we kept driving and going at Wexford. That’s what you want to see, we didn’t let up at any stage.”
This is Sean Power’s first year in charge. He has quickly put his stamp on the team as their heads-up camogie has cut open defences throughout the spring. The Mount Sion man led the Waterford minor and U21 hurlers to All-Ireland glory but he believes that these Déise camogie players are a special bunch.
“I’ve said it for months now, they’re as good as I’ve ever worked with,” Power enthused. “Totally dedicated, they absorb information, they really want to improve, they’re so proud of their county and there’s a great camaraderie between them all. Everything you want in a county set-up. I’ve great support with the management team as well, top class guys. Really positive and really enjoyable.”
A league trophy is the perfect start to the season.
“It’s a nice confidence builder. They’ve worked very hard to get to this stage. The next block of what the year holds for us is very, very different. Championship is championship and league is league. We’ll enjoy it, because they’re not easy to win, but soon enough we’ll park it up and look forward to the Munster championship.”
Player of the match Beth Carton put over eight points for Power’s side, making it 2-56 in six league games for the De La Salle ace. Lively corner forward Annie Fitzgerald gave her a run for her money. The dual star fired five points from play as she tormented the Wexford defence all afternoon. Abby Flynn raised a green flag in the first half while 2020 All-Star Niamh Rockett struck three points. Nine different players got on the scoresheet.
Waterford netminder Brianna O’Regan made a big save early on while Vikki Falconer and Clodagh Carroll also caught the eye in defence. Midfield pair Lorraine Bray and Clara Griffin covered every blade of grass.
Wexford were dealt a blow before throw-in as top scorer Ciara O’Connor was ruled out through injury. A diving save from O’Regan denied Kate Kirwan after just three minutes. Chloe Cashe converted the subsequent 45 for the purple and gold but that was the only time Colin Sunderland’s side led.
Carton hit back with three points in a row from play and assisted the goal for Flynn on the quarter hour mark. Chloe Foxe goaled at the other end for Wexford but points from Anne Corcoran, Flynn, Fitzgerald, Rockett and Carton saw Waterford move 1-12 to 1-3 in front at the break. It was one-way traffic in the second period as the leaders had the luxury of bringing on all eight subs.
Power and his players will enjoy this one.
“We might have a little bit of a celebration!” the manager agreed. “We have a few weeks until the next game. There hasn’t been much celebrating up to now, they’ve been really driven in what they do until this point of the year. We might give them a night or two off!”