By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Wexford are chasing a fourth Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 1 title in a row but they were made to fight all the way by a valiant Kilkenny in the semi-final at Carriganore, prevailing by 1-4 to 0-6. They now play Cork in the final.
A strong cross-field wind made it very difficult for both teams but it was Kilkenny who made a better fist of it, leading at half time by double scores, 0-4 to 0-2. Aoife Neary pointed three frees in the final eight minutes of the half to push the Noresiders clear.
Ursula Jacob had opened the scoring from a free before Miriam Walsh responded almost immediately with a neat effort from play. Jacob restored Wexford’s lead in the 12th minute but JJ Doyle’s outfit failed to trouble the scorekeeper for the remainder of the half, although Evelyn Quigley did have a goal-bound effort saved by Kilkenny netminder, Caitriona Ryan.
Michelle O’Leary reduced the deficit with a brilliant point early in the second half before the key moment of the game arrived in the 40th minute.
Jacob showed good strength to win possession before sending in a long ball that was finished to the net by Quigley, after Ryan had saved her initial effort.
Points from Katie Power and Aoife Neary brought the sides level with 12 minutes remaining and in a very tense conclusion, it was the champions who came up with the winner, courtesy of a Jacob free in the 57th minute.
It was very tough on Kilkenny, for whom Elaine Aylward was outstanding at centre-back, while Orla Walsh was also an influential performer.
In the end though, Wexford’s experience showed and with the likes of Catherine O’Loughlin and Noeleen Lambert superb, they just about managed to advance to a final showdown with Cork.