Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir
IT WAS despair in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship at the Royals’ expense, with Wexford winning the relegation play-off by 4-13 to 4-9 at Conneff Park, Clane.
It had been a year to forget for the Yellowbellies, who were in danger of making the drop just seven years after celebrating the three-in-a-row and had already been relegated to Division 2 of the National League in March.
Meath had illustrated much improved competitiveness in their second season at Senior level after claiming Intermediate honours in 2017 but had not been able to register a victory either.
Ray Galvin’s troops got a dream start when Aoife Minogue goaled inside a minute. Joanne Dillon raced away from midfield to drill a major at the other end but it was 2-1 to 1-1 to Meath after eight minutes when Lisa Foley pulled first time on a breaking ball to breach the Wexford defences once more.
Wexford were doing much of the attacking though and Chloe Foxe’s free deflected off a Meath hurley to the net and bring the teams level at the end of the opening quarter.
A Mags Byrne point put Barry Kennedy’s side ahead and they never ceded the advantage again, three Foxe frees making it 2-7 to 2-4 at half-time.
It was nip and tuck after the restart and when the outstanding Minogue grabbed a second goal, both sets of supporters were on tenterhooks, given the enormity of the situation.
The Wexford response was impressive, Foxe raising a green flag from a penalty after a foul on Aoife Guiney (she ended with 2-6 from placed balls) and the magnificent Dillon following up for her second.
Points from Amy Cardiff and Linda Bolger brought the margin to 10 points and Wexford looked home and hosed.
But Meath have had a never-say-die attitude about them throughout this summer campaign and they went down fighting. Kristina Troy struck for a goal and three more points reduced the margin to four.
Time was not their friend however and Wexford had done enough to survive, with Meath destined for the Intermediate grade in 2020.