Wexford's power of three
CAMOGIE ALL-IRELAND SENIOR FINAL: AT THE end, it was like somebody pulled a plug from a sinkhole in the middle of the pitch sucking everyone in a purple and gold jersey towards it. A swirling, jigging Wexford vortex of three-in-a-row joy, danced on the back of a 3-13 to 3-6 victory over Cork in front of 15,900 paying guests at Croke Park. After winning only three senior All-Irelands in 74 years, this was their fourth in six summers – they earned every spring, step and bounce of that jig.
But even in that one supreme moment of shared delirium, one player stood out. Ursula Jacob was about to go join the fray when out of the corner of her eye, she saw the match ball lying on the ground a few yards away. Instinct had served her well all afternoon, the 2-7 against her name at the end a word-perfect translation of her effect on the game. Her instinct now was to go gather up the sliotar for a keepsake. “I thought I might as well hang on to it if nobody else was going to,” she said afterwards. “My sister has it now, she’ll keep it safe and sound for me.”
So for anyone keeping score, Jacob left Croke Park last night with a fourth All-Ireland medal, a nailed-on third All Star, a second All-Ireland final player-of-the-game award and a smuggled sliotar for posterity. Nobody would begrudge her a bit of it either.
On a day when Wexford had to shake pretty vigorously to loosen Cork’s grip on them, Jacob was the one who made the difference. She top-scored for Wexford for the third final in a row, her two goals in three minutes midway through the second half finally ending the resistance of a Cork team that had kept them honest through every single step. After a lot of bending, Jacob’s second goal broke them at last and they only managed a single point in the last 15 minutes.
“I think it’s getting better every year,” said Jacob afterwards, “because you just want it so much and every team is just pushing really hard. I think the challenge is there and you’re wanting to get better and better. I don’t think you take it for granted getting to All-Irelands, we really want to win them. That’s the thing with this group of girls – we want to win so much. I think we showed that today.
“Honestly, coming into this game we weren’t really thinking about the three-in-a-row. You can only win one All-Ireland at a time, you can’t really win three. We just were focusing on getting back to Croke Park. After the game you kind of reflect on these things but I still can’t believe it’s three-in-a-row. It’s kind of surreal at the moment.”