Jacob takes the biscuit as Wexford come through in the crunch


CAMOGIE ALL-IRELAND SENIOR FINAL Wexford 3-13 Cork 3-6:FOR LONG spells of this cracking All-Ireland camogie final, the main mystery at hand was just how Cork were managing to hang on in there.

Wexford dominated the opening to each half, they had the upper hand close to both goals and in Ursula Jacob, Deirdre Codd and Katrina Parrock they had the game’s three most luminous bulbs.

Yet any time it looked like Wexford were ready to kick for the line in front of 15,900 spectators, Cork managed to claw their way into their slipstream. “They just didn’t back down,” marvelled Wexford manager JJ Doyle afterwards.

Their refusal to made for a decider that fizzed and banged all the way to the end. In the space of three frenzied minutes midway through the second half, Cork saw and raised an Ursula Jacob goal with one of their own from Katriona Mackey. It came so quickly that half the crowd was still watching the replay of Jacob’s goal on the big screen as Mackey sprinted through to finish past Mags D’Arcy to reduce the deficit to just two points again.

But then, it was exactly the sort of rat-a-tat-tat exchange the game up to then had prepared you for. Wexford’s early dominance was total, full-forward Parrock giving Joanne O’Callaghan a ferocious chasing and stitching a personal tally of 1-2 onto the board by the 22nd minute.

The last of those scores put Wexford 1-5 to 0-2 ahead and was typical of the way they were playing – out in front of her marker, she turned and popped a point as if it was nothing less than the natural order of things.

Yet as long as Cork were still attached by a single piece of rope, they weren’t going to let themselves fall off the cliff-face. Goalkeeper Aoife Murray came up and slammed home a penalty on 25 minutes to keep them in it and although Jacob replied with a free and a 45 soon after, it was Cork who finished the half the strongest. Síle Burns finished off a piercing Claire Shine run to make it 1-7 to 2-2 before the Cork midfield of Orla Cotter and Jenny O’Leary knocked over the last two points of the half.

“We should have been ahead at half-time with the way we played in the first 20 minutes,” said Doyle. “But Cork played very well in those last 15 minutes coming up to half time – including the six minutes injury-time.

“They were on fire. They clawed it back where lesser teams might not have done that against a team that had won two All-Irelands. They drove on and drove on. We had a belief but we knew we had to go out and do it in the second half. I’m just so happy that’s what we did.”

While you wouldn’t say they did because of just one player, it doesn’t take much sleuthing to find the main protagonist in that second half. Of the 2-6 Wexford scored after the break, 2-3 came from the stick of Jacob.

She pointed the first free of the half to put Wexford into a lead they didn’t relinquish, as well as the final 45 in injury-time that Doyle declared afterwards as the first point all day at which he could relax.

In between, it was her two goals that finally broke Cork’s will.

The second of them would have been an adornment to any of the stadium’s greatest days. After Mackey’s goal had hauled Cork back into the game at just 3-5 to 2-10 behind, the next Wexford attack found a spilled ball squirting to the right of Cork’s large parallelogram, right at the corner furthest from the top left-hand corner of Aoife Murray’s net. Jacob sprinted onto it and met it with a strike so pure that Murray barely had time to lift her hurl to meet it before it was past her.

“I think I’ll just have to thank the Croke Park pitch for that,” said Jacob, although the truth is that it was she who had paid it the compliment.

After that, Cork’s race was run. The always defiant Briege Corkery brought Cork back to within four but Wexford stretched their legs over the final 10 minutes to close out a historic three-in-a-row.

“People might think I’m joking or I’m bulling or whatever,” said Doyle afterwards, “but I really didn’t realise the three-in-a-row was as big until the press conference on Tuesday in Croke. I was looking at Sunday. This year was all that mattered to me. I couldn’t care less about the last two years because I guarantee you if we’d lost today, the last two years would have meant nothing sitting in that dressing room. It’s something now that will start to sink in, that these girls have made history. No Wexford team – male or female – has won three in a row in over 100 years. And I don’t know whether it will be done again.”

If it is, it will hardly be done as well.

WEXFORD: M D’Arcy; C O’Connor, C O’Loughlin, K Atkinson; N Lambert, M Leacy, D Codd; L Bolger, K Kelly (0-2); M O’Leary, U Leacy, J Dwyer; F Rochford (0-2), K Parrock (1-2), U Jacob (2-7, 0-4 frees, 0-2 45s). Subs: F Kavanagh for Bolger (47 mins).

CORK: A Murray (1-0, pen); J Duffy, R Buckley, J O’Callaghan; E O’Sullivan, G O’Connor, P Mackey; J O’Leary (0-4, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45), O Cotter (0-1); J Casey, A Geary, B Corkery (0-1); K Mackey (1-0), C Shine, S Burns (1-0). Subs: K Buckley for Shine, R Curtin for Casey (both 55 mins).

Referee: A Lagrue(Kildare)

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