A perfect record of three wins from three games against Offaly (1-10 to 1-8), Kilkenny (4-20 to 0-6) and Galway (6-5 to 1-6) left Wexford on top of Group 2 of the Gala Intermediate championship ahead of the Faithful county, meaning they avoid a clash against the other in-form side in the semi-finals, Derry.
With a flying, fully-fit, squad to choose from, including the return of Louise Codd into her plans, manager Karen Barnes is finding it difficult to pinpoint the best 15 for Saturday’s clash.
æWe have 24 girls there that can play Intermediate, it’s actually very hard to pick a 15 because they are training so well,’ she said. æI have every confidence in all of them that whoever is called on they can go and beat Limerick.’
While the Seniors have been taking centre stage, the Intermediates have flown under the radar but are yet to taste defeat in a competitive match this year, with the only blemish on the card being a draw against Down way back in the league in February.
æWe did have the other girls who have been brought up to the Senior panel (Karen Atkinson, Fiona Kavanagh, Ciara Storey, BrÝd Gordon and Evelyn Quigley) but it is a brilliant record and we had excellent displays from other girls in there too. To go unbeaten and retain the league was fantastic but we set out to get two teams in the All-Ireland final and hopefully we can do that.’
It’s almost eight weeks since the side defeated Galway to book their spot in the semi-final, and Barnes is confident that the long gap won’t cause a lull in performances.
æWe think it won’t simply because they have been training all the time alongside the Seniors. They have been training with that intensity of match situations and with matches every weekend and it keeps our level the same as theirs.’
Barnes is expecting a battle against a big, powerful Limerick side filled with experience, having only dropped down from Senior this year. A defeat to Derry (2-8 to 0-11) was sandwiched in between a draw with Cork (2-7 each) and a crucial win over Tipperary (2-12 to 0-5) as they took second spot in Group 1 behind Derry.
æLimerick will be physical, tough. We just have to match them. When we played them in the league in Cushinstown they had some very strong players, they had a very good free-taker who can punish us so we need to get out in front and win the ball.
æFor those girls to get to an All-Ireland final it would be absolutely fantastic. Some of the girls are a little bit older and have been playing with the Wexford second string for years and, with it being in Croke Park, I would love for those girls to get to an All-Ireland final.’