Wexford set up a repeat of last years All Ireland Final as they put Cork to the sword in Nowlan Park on Saturday. After a sluggish and off colour first half they showed why they are the top team in the country with a vastly improved second half showing.
They outscored Cork 1-7 to 1-3 after the change of ends and their players stepped it up immeasurably. The only blip was the late concession of a goal while the management will worry about the fact their multiple All Star full back Catherine O’Loughlin who was carried off with an ankle injury.
The opening half hour had been disappointing with the concession of too many frees and injuries to Cork’s Jennifer O’Leary and Wexford Captain Mary Leacy resulting in an extremely stop-start affair.
The Rebelettes were the ones who should have been happier with their performance but that would be of little solace to them as Ursula Jacob hit 1-1 just before half-time to give the champions a one point lead going in at half-time.
We had to wait 23 minutes for the game’s first point from play as up to then each side were relying on their respective free-takers Ursula Jacob and Jennifer O’Leary to get the umpires working. Katriona Mackey was enjoying the space on the wing and she hit two points in quick succession to edge the Munster side in front.
Cork were really starting to get on top at this stage and Gemma O’Connor split the posts from way out on the right sideline. Then Wexford decided to go direct with great effect.
Una Leacy, well known for her aerial ability, fetched a free that dropped in and showed her vision to feed her Oulart the Ballagh club mate Jacob who stroked home. The latter then converted a free from an acute angle to see her side go in leading 1-4 to 0-6 at half time which was hardly deserved.
Dressing rooms are often the scenes of rousing speeches as teams reappear transformed and although they went in winning JJ Doyle must have had some strong words as his charges had failed to ignite. Straight from the throw-in the O’Duffy Cup holders looked sharper and hungrier.
Players like Kate Kelly came into the game and Ursula Jacob continued her great display, one which earned her the player of the match award. Lenny Holohan and Deirdre Codd got the scoring going after the restart with Kelly then opening her account.
Katrina Parrock then grabbed 1-1 in the space of two minutes. Her goal was what you expect from a corner forward as she gambled and won as the Cork backs got in a mix-up and Parrock gathered and fired to the net. Then she showed her long distance shooting as she eased over from way out on the left sideline.
Gemma O’Connor and Orla Cotter kept Cork in touch converting placed balls before the Munster side were given a ray of hope as Katriona Mackey got in and blasted past Mags D’Arcy.
However, up stepped Jacob and Kate Kelly to see out the game and give Wexford the insurance points that allowed their large support breathe a little. In one month it remains to be seen can they defend their title but on their second half display it’s highly likely.
SCORERS: Cork: K Mackey 1-2, J O’Leary 0-3 (3f), G O’Connor 0-2, O Cotter, S Burns 0-1 (f) each. Wexford: U Jacob 1-6 (5f), K Parrock 1-1, K Kelly 0-2, D Codd, L Holohan 0-1 each.
Player of the match: Ursula Jacob (Wexford)
WEXFORD: Mags D’Arcy; Claire O’Connor, Catherine O’Loughlin, Karen Atkinson; Noeleen Lambert, Mary Leacy, Aoife O’Connor; Deirdre Codd, Josie Dwyer; Kate Kelly, Una Leacy, Michelle O’Leary; Lenny Holohan, Ursula Jacob, Katrina Parrock. Subs: Evelyn Quigley for Codd (49mins), Ciara Storey for O’Loughlin (56mins), Fiona Kavanagh for U Leacy (57mins)
CORK: Aoife Murray; Jenny Duffy, Amanda O’Regan, Pamela Mackey; Elaine O’Riordan, Rena Buckley, Anna Geary; Orla Cotter, Gemma O’Connor; Briege Corkery, Linda Dorgan, Jennifer O’Leary; Joanne Casey, SÝle Burns, Katriona Mackey.
Subs: Eimear O’Sullivan for O’Leary (h/t), Denise Cronin for Burns (48mins), Sarah Hayes for Dorgan (53mins), Jennifer O’Leary for Casey (55mins)
REFEREE: Fintan McNamara (Clare)