Leacy paves way for Model win


Camogie/All-Ireland Senior Final/Wexford 2-7 Cork 1-8:Brian Cody's controversial assertion that Henry Shefflin is the best hurler ever has evoked similar debate in the camogie arena.

But following Wexford's memorable All-Ireland senior final success over Cork at Croke Park yesterday there would be scarcely a Model County supporter in the huge crowd that would not unhesitatingly put forward Wexford's team en bloc for the supreme honour in the women's game.

The courageous and superbly fit Wexford team were without the experience of Cork who were bidding for a three-in-a-row. But they played with admirable levels of skill and defiance throughout.

They based their ground -breaking triumph after a lapse of 32 years on a crucial two-goal start provided by Una Leacy.

Perhaps it was only fitting that the daughter of Margaret (nee O'Leary) who has been included in the camogie team of the century should make such an impact on the big day.

Una's sister Mary was another Wexford star, playing a key role in a tight defence that kept Cork's much-vaunted attack in check. Cork felt the challenge from formidable opposition from an early stage and they could manage only three points in the first half against 2-2 for the winners.

The Munster champions never really got to grips with their shooting in that opening half and they compiled a total of seven crucial wides against three for Wexford in the first period.

Fiona O'Driscoll the Cork coach afterwards said: "To Wexford's credit they played extremely well despite the fact that the occasion was new to them and most importantly they never panicked when we got our deficit down to a single point in the second half."

Kate Kelly put in an outstanding performance in the middle of the field. She injected pace similar to that of Bronagh Furlong to put enormous pressure on the Cork defenders.

Athlete Furlong who hopes to represent Ireland at Olympic Games level is in continuous training and her first reaction was: "Sure, they got us back to a point in the second half but we never dropped our heads".

Wexford manager Stella Sinnott, a member of the last Wexford team to reach the All-Ireland decider in 1994, said she was absolutely thrilled by a success that had eluded her on the playing field 13 years ago. Sinnott added:

"Hunger was the key factor in our victory. We knew we had the team to win should we perform and God, did we perform."

From goalkeeper Mag D'Arcy to left corner forward Ursula Jacob Wexford looked a potent side. Kelly in midfield repeatedly caused problems for the Cork cover and contributed three points, two from frees.

Rose Marie Breen led the Wexford attack with poise and imagination while Furlong, Michelle O'Leary, Una Leacy and Michelle Hearn sustained the pressure on the Cork defence.

Briege Corkery and Gemma O'Connor tried in vain to turn the tide for Cork and Emer Dillon and Gemma O'Connor were prominent during the Rebels' second half rally. But Leacy's two goals proved successive title.

WEXFORD: M D'Arcy, N Lambert, C O'Loughlin, A Nolan, A Codd, M Leacy, D Codd, K Kelly (0-3, two frees), C Murphy, B Furlong, RM Breen (0-1), M O'Leary, U Leacy (2-0), M Hearn, U Jacob (0-2). Subs: C Parrock (0-1) for M O'Leary; S O'Connor for Nolan.

CORK: A Murray, J O'Callaghan, C Foley, A O'Regan, R Buckley, M O'Connor, A Geary, B Corkery (0-1), G O'Connor (0-4, two frees), U O'Donoghue, A Walsh (0-1), J O'Leary, E Dillon (1-1), O Cotter (0-1), S Burns. Subs: E Watson for O'Donoghue; S O'Donovan for Walsh.

Referee: J Morrissey (Tipperary).