Wexford forced to hang on in the end
CAMOGIE ALL-IRELAND SENIOR FINAL Wexford 1-12 Galway 1-10:THEY WERE made to live on their nerves a little at the end by a resolute Galway unit desperate for success, but Wexford were worthy winners of the Gala All-Ireland senior camogie title for the first time since 2007.
On that occasion, Mary Leacy captained the side and this time it was her sister Una who was presented with the O’Duffy Cup.
The game ended in a welter of excitement when Aislinn Connolly’s free from under the Hogan Stand right on the hour flew all the way to the corner of the net to leave just two points between the sides.
Try as they might, though, Galway could not break down a splendid Wexford rearguard one more time and so their search for a second All-Ireland continues.
The big news was the appearance of Jessica Gill at full forward for the Tribeswomen. The Athenry star had made a number of substitute appearances in the round-robin stages of the championship as she continued her recovery from a cruciate knee ligament operation, but this was her first start.
Veronica Curtin, who had been in flying form on the edge of the square all season, was switched to the corner.
But even when Galway got more of a foothold around the middle in the second half, they found it difficult to break down the Wexford defence and only managed three points from play in the game.
Corner back Claire O’Connor maintained her phenomenal record of not conceding a score in eight championship encounters, Curtin’s sole point coming after she had switched to the opposite corner.
Catherine O’Loughlin was monumental at full back and Mary Leacy gave another commanding performance in front of her.
It was this dominance that laid the platform for Wexford’s victory and in particular the first-half superiority that gave them a seven-point lead at the break, 1-8 to 0-4.
“We were happy to fight it out,” said Mary Leacy. “We didn’t care what kind of game it looked like. We battled it out. There was a lot of hooking and blocking in the second half. We didn’t care if it was one point or 10 points, just to win was our main aim.
“There was bodies, heads, legs, everything was going in. Everyone gave 100 per cent. You could see some tired legs – I was wrecked!”
For Galway, though, it was a second defeat at this stage in three years and Therese Maher could not hide the pain.
“There’s an absolutely devastation in there now,” said the Galway captain. “No amount of words is going to console anybody. You go to Croke Park to win. Another day over. Another All-Ireland lost.”
Wexford were three points clear by the 19th minute, Una Leacy, Kate Kelly and Katrina Parrock slotting points from play.
Galway, despite being clearly second-best, that was still the margin with half-time looming. But in the 30th minute Wexford struck for a crucial goal from Katrina Parrock.
It was Kelly who started the move and she found Una Leacy brilliantly. The skipper beat Ann-Marie Hayes before drawing Regina Glynn and hand-passing to Parrock, who drove low beyond the exposed Susan Earner.
Una Jacob added a point and Wexford were full value for their advantage.
Galway were a different prospect after the resumption. and Wexford’s forwards had nowhere near the space afforded earlier on. Wing back Niamh Kilkenny gave an exhibition for the Maroons, but they needed to take every chance that came their way.
They couldn’t do it, and Gill had a 34th-minute penalty she had won herself saved by Mags D’Arcy.
The St Martin’s custodian was also quickly off her line to deny Therese Maher, and these were to prove critical interventions, especially when Fiona Dwyer somehow hand-passed wide at the other end with the goal gaping.
Still, it looked like the game was meandering to an inevitable conclusion when Connolly was fouled around 35 metres out. When the Castlegar player’s shot ended in the back of the Wexford net, the Galway supporters erupted. But it wasn’t to be; two minutes later, Wexford were celebrating.
WEXFORD: M D’Arcy; C O’Connor, C O’Loughlin, K Atkinson; N Lambert, M Leacy, A O’Connor; C Murphy, D Codd; K Kelly (0-2), U Leacy (0-1), M O’Leary (0-1); K Parrock (1-2), U Jacob (0-6, 4fs), J Dwyer. Subs: C Storey for Atkinson (inj, 14); L Holohan for Codd (53).
GALWAY: S Earner; S Tannian, S Dervan, R Glynn; N Kilkenny, AM Hayes, T Manton; B Hanney, O Kilkenny (0-1); C Murray, T Maher, A Connolly (1-6, 1-4f); T Rutledge, J Gill (0-1, f), V Curtin (0-1). Subs: E Kilkelly for Rutledge (temp, 9-18); L Ryan for Murray (28); Kilkelly (0-1)for Rutledge (h-t); H Cooney for Manton (39); J McGrath for Gill (56); A Lynskey for O Kilkenny (60+1).
Referee: K O’Brien(Dublin).