Wexford and Galway took the field in their opening Irish Daily Star Division 1 Camogie League tie without many of the regulars that have graced both sides over the years writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.
Rochford leads the way for new-look Wexford
For their part, Wexford were operating under new management too as Martin Lynch took over the reins from JJ Doyle.
Despite all the change though, the result had an all-too-familiar hue to it as far as Galway were concerned, with Wexford coming out on top in another tight affair, 2-10 to 1-10 at Ballinasloe’s Duggan Park.
The crucial period came at the beginning of the final quarter, as Wexford registered 2-2 between the 46th and 48th minutes to turn the game around.
At that juncture, Galway had been leading by 0-8 to 0-5 but the sides were level when a long free from Mags D’Arcy was gathered by Bríd Gordon, who hand-passed the sliotar to the net.
The magnificent Fiona Rochford lofted over two points before being set up by Gordon with a very well taken goal from a ground shot. Rochford added two more points to bring her personal tally to 1-7 – 1-3 of which came from play – but Galway did continue to battle.
Mollly Dunne doubled on Orla Kilkenny’s hand-pass to grab a goal and Niamh Kilkenny pointed to reduce the margin to three. Near the end, Niamh McGrath had an opportunity from a penalty, but D’Arcy deflected her low shot out for an ultimately fruitless 45.
Galway had had the wind behind them in the first half but only led by 0-5 to 0-4 at half time, having shot six wides. They would have been happy to have stretched the lead to three at the three-quarter mark but there was no coming back from the Wexford blitz.
Clare came out on top in the other Group 2 game, beating Dublin in Sixmilebridge by 0-15 to 1-5. The hosts were four points up when Áine Fanning goaled for Dublin. Alice Maguire (free) and Ali Twomey added points but Clare regained their composure with points from Fiona Lafferty, Deirdre Murphy and Claire McMahon to lead by 0-8 to 1-3 at the half time.
McMahon notched up two early points from frees and Dublin moved goalkeeper, Fiona Hayes into their attack to try to increase their potency. She did register a point but with Máire McGrath following up her imperious Ashbourne Cup form with another brilliant midfield display and Naomi Carroll weighing in with some excellent scores, Clare were comfortable winners.
Áine Fanning, Alice Maguire and Catriona Power – whose mother is a Clare native – tried hard for Dublin, but the Metropolitans were unable to break down the Banner girls’ stout defensive unit.
In Group 1, champions Cork had eight different scorers as they racked up 0-19 in overcoming Tipperary at Páirc Uí Rinn. The concession of two goals meant that they could never relax though and is sure to be something they will be working on in the weeks ahead.
Jenny O’Leary was deadly accurate from placed balls, with seven of her eight points coming from frees. Síle Burns, Katrina Mackey and Finola Neville added seven points from play as Cork maintained their advantage throughout.
They led by 0-8 to 0-6 at the break and with O’Leary, Mackey and Eimear O’Sullivan in outstanding form, they kept their noses in front despite a significant contribution of 1-5 from Nicole Walsh for Tipperary.
In the final Division 1 game, Kilkenny were surprisingly easy winners over Derry in Bray. The Noresiders were all business as they worked up a 1-10 to 0-4 interval advantage and built on that in the second half to prevail on a 2-16 to 1-7 scoreline.
In Division 2, Cork completely the double over Tipperary (1-14 to 1-6) thanks to ten points from Denise Luby and Julia Mulcahy, while Sinéad O’Carroll scored 1-8 and Siobhán Hurley 1-2 as Kildare put Down to the sword at Ballykelly, 2-15 to 2-3. There were wins too for Limerick, Meath and Galway over Antrim (2-11 to 0-5), Waterford (0-8 to 0-5) and Wexford (3-10 to 0-2).
In Division 3, Dublin beat Armagh 1-13 to 1-6 and Laois were much too strong for Roscommon (3-12 to 1-3), while in Division 4, Ciara Quirke scored five points as Carlow accounted for Cavan, 1-14 to 0-6.