By Daragh Ë Conch·ir
Wexford confirmed their superiority over Galway when prevailing in a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland senior camogie final at Ballinasloe with a successful start to their bid to retain the Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 1 title.
While both sides were a little short of full strength, there were still 19 players on show who played in that All-Ireland.
In the end though, Galway’s inability to make any impact on the scoreboard for 28 minutes of the second half was crucial, while Wexford struck for a couple of late goals to secure a 3-9 to 2-6 victory.
The visitors hit the front early on when Lenny Holohan began a move that finished with Evelyn Quigley finding the net in the eighth minute to establish a four-point lead.
They held onto that advantage until the 20th minute when the vastly experienced Veronica Curtin finished a Niamh Kilkenny delivery to the net. Jessica Gill and Aislinn Connolly added frees before Gill drove a 20m free to the net and suddenly it was the Tribeswomen who were four to the good.
Perhaps significantly though, Wexford hit back for two late points and by the time Gill converted a free less than three minutes before the end of normal time, Kate Kelly had done likewise from three opportunities at the other end, while Ciara O’Connor had scored from play and it was the Model County outfit ahead.
O’Connor made sure of the points with a goal right on the hour and though Curtin raised a white flag for Galway’s only score from play of the second half, Quigley found the net for her second goal almost immediately after to claim the spoils.
Meanwhile, Offaly marked their first ever game in the top tier by securing a 1-10 to 0-13 draw against Clare in dramatic fashion.
The newcomers began well with a brace of points from Arlene Watkins and a point from Elaine Dermody. Clare responded with three points from Deirdre Murphy, including a 45 and a free and despite Dermody bringing her tally to three from two frees, good scores from Mairead Scanlon and Laura Linnane helped Clare lead by 0-7 to 0-6 at half time.
Offaly upped the tempo after the resumption with Kirwan, Marion Crean and Siobhan Flannery amongst the scorers and they led by two points with time running out. Chloe Morey halved the deficit from a free before R¾isÝn McMahon goaled from a penalty and Clare looked like they had snatched the win.
That was to reckon without the character of the Faithful unit though and points from R¾isÝn Coughlan and the excellent Flannery earned them a share of the honours.
Meanwhile, the only scheduled game in Group 2, between Dublin and Tipperary, was postponed due to the waterlogged pitch at Naomh Mearn¾g.
In Group 1 of Division 2, Galway beat Wexford by 2-9 to 1-8. A goal from Linda Bolger two minutes before half time gave Wexford a 1-6 to 0-4 lead by a goal direct from a 20m free by Rebecca Hennelly, and another from Niamh McGrath after good work by substitute Jessica Gill, swung matters the home side’s way at Duggan Park.
In Division 2, Limerick and Tipperary played out a 1-11 to 2-8 draw while in Division 3, last year’s double-champions Kildare just edged out Armagh 2-4 to 2-3, R¾isÝn O’Connell proving the two-goal heroine.