Dean Goodison reports from Ardfinnan
Injury-time points by Ciara O’Connor and Louise Codd ensured that Wexford stayed on course for double All-Ireland glory with a hard fought two point victory over Limerick in the Gala All-Ireland intermediate camogie championship semi-final at Ardfinnan on Saturday.
In doing so they remain the only unbeaten side in the second tier this year as Wexford camogie continues on the crest of a wave.
When Eileen O’Brien-Costelloe levelled in the final minute of normal time for Limerick it looked likely that they could drive on and take victory. However Lisa Bolger won a huge free on the left which O’Connor slotted before Codd took the resulting puck-out and fired over for a clinching score to give Wexford victory.
This triumph was in no small part down to the guts and determination shown by a resolute Wexford defence, which, despite coming under monumental pressure, never cracked in sixty plus minutes of intense action.
Ciara O’Connor led like a captain should with a tidy 1-5 while the form of Jean Hayden was crucial at the other end – the diminutive corner-back played like a woman possessed.
Wexford got off to the perfect start against the elements as Lorraine O’Connor’s battling down the right allowed Ciara O’Connor to pick up the ball and break past Sarah Collins. Her hand-passed finish to the roof of the net was as emphatic as they come as her side stole an early lead.
Limerick danger-woman Eileen O’Brien-Costelloe pointed from a tight angle on the right before a glorious opportunity almost saw the lead evaporate.
Michelle Casey got in behind Coleen Atkinson and was brilliantly found by Orla Curtin, it looked for all the world like she would goal but her hand-passed effort was slowed by Helena Jacob – enough to stick in the sanded goal-mouth – and Atkinson recovered to stop the ball crossing the line as the referee eventually blew for a throw-ball.
O’Brien-Costelloe pointed twice more before Joanne O’Gorman raised the fourth Limerick white flag of the half with eight minutes remaining (0-4 to 1-0) for their only lead of the contest. Back came Wexford after a spell of 23 minutes without a score. A great spot by Lisa Bolger allowed SÝona Nolan to tie the game before the rangy centre-forward was fouled moments later and Ciara O’Connor struck her side ahead.
A long run and finish gave O’Connor her second point in the last minute of the half before Fiona Rochford grabbed her first to edge her side into a three point half-time lead (1-4 to 0-4).
Having registered just before the break she did likewise on the resumption to give Wexford their largest lead of the day but despite now having the elements at their back they failed to kick on and Limerick took full control of proceedings.
The Wexford defence kept them in it but they couldn’t stop Niamh Mulcahy dragging her side within three. A brace from O’Brien-Costelloe left Limerick down by the minimum with seventeen minutes remaining but that proximity gave their opponents the jolt they needed.
O’Connor added a quick fire double to keep Wexford noses in front but it was only a momentary hiatus in pressure as Mulcahy and Curtin countered for the Treaty girls (1-7 to 0-9). Lively substitute Dympna O’Brien fed O’Brien-Costello for the levelling score in the final minute but the late drama saw Wexford book their showdown with Offaly on September 12th.
WEXFORD: Helena Jacob; Jean Hayden, Louise O’Leary, Coleen Atkinson; Frances Doran, Louise Codd (0-1), Shelly Kehoe; Emma Moran, Lorraine O’Connor; Bridget Curran, SÝona Nolan (0-1), Fiona Rochford (0-2); Stacey Kehoe, Ciara O’Connor (1-5, 0-2 frees, 0-1 ’45), Lisa Bolger. SUBS: Stacey Redmond for Curran (42), Eimear O’Connor for Moran (50).
LIMERICK: Sile Moynihan; Sarah Carey, Sarah Collins, Aideen McNamara; Fiona Hickey, Aoifa Sheehan, Judith Mulcahy; Vera Sheehan, Deirdre Fitzpatrick; Eileen O’Brien-Costelloe (0-6, 2 frees), Claire Mulcahy, Joanne O’Gorman (0-1); Michelle Casey, Orla Curtin (0-1), Niamh Mulcahy (0-2, 1 free). SUBS: Dympna O’Brien for Casey (28), Joanne Clifford for McNamara (49), Kerrie Brosnan for Fitzpatrick (56).
REFEREE: Mike O’Kelly (Cork)