HomeFootballWexford women cruise into Leinster final with convincing win over Offaly

Wexford women cruise into Leinster final with convincing win over Offaly


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The Slaneysiders came into the game in a good spot, having dispatched Wicklow with a bit to spare and safe in the knowledge that victory over the Faithful girls would rubber-stamp their place in the decider.

The win takes the pressure off, with the final game of the group stages against Westmeath next weekend having no repercussions for Wexford. Their opponents will still need a result to guarantee their own spot in the final, with Offaly left looking for help from the Slaneysiders.

But this game ended up being all about Wexford and what they brought to the table.

There’s no denying it, the Slaneysiders have been more poor than powerful in 2024 so far, but they finally showed something better here.

This could have been a tricky assignment, as Offaly put it up to everyone in Division 3 of the league and deservedly beat Wexford in the dead-rubber finale. However, they were second best from the first minute here.

It’s hard to see where Offaly go from here, since if one result can derail a season this was probably it as they got kicked off the park. As damaging as it was for the visitors, Wexford needed a big performance, if only for their own swagger and confidence.

All facets of the game worked well, with their defensive structure and spacing as clean as it has been, their kick-outs, both offensive and defensive, in good shape, and their score-taking was a notch up on what they have produced this season to date.

The 1-13 they scored is Wexford’s best tally so far, while the 0-4 conceded is also a season’s best, which obviously means the margin of victory, twelve points, was far and away their largest in 2024.

All this arrived against an Offaly side that came into the game with only one loss greater than four points this season, and also on a high after securing a quality draw against Westmeath. They weren’t allowed to get going here as Wexford started the game with excellent intensity.

One of the issues with Lizzy Kent’s side this campaign is that they have been slow starters, but there was no such easing in period here. The appetite to go after this game was there from the first minute and Wexford got their just rewards.

The hosts played with the breeze in the opening half, kicking into the road end, and took an early lead with a nice Aoife Cullen score off her right boot.

Ciara Banville added a second point breaking from wing-back in the fifth minute to make it a 0-2 to nil lead.

This is the second straight game in which Banville occupied the wing-back spot. Wexford like their half-backs to contribute to attacking situations and while there’s a niggling worry that the strength of the Taghmon-Camross player’s game is blunted by the restrictions of the position, the overall results in the last couple of games justifies the decision.

Cullen added her second point from a free in the 13th minute after a charging offence against Offaly.

Caoilfhionn Ní Nuallain pointed from Amanda Power’s free to give Wexford a 0-4 to nil lead at the end of the opening quarter. The pressure continued, with Cullen registering again after she was fouled two minutes later.

When Kellie Kearney’s effort dropped short and to the right in the 20th minute, a heads-up bit of play by Róisín Hughes saw the Kilanerin youngster fist over the bar. Chloe Foxe then got in on the act, kicking Wexford 0-7 to nil up after 26 minutes.

Emma Hand got Offaly on the scoreboard in the 30th minute and after a half littered with stoppages, it was a little surprising that just four added minutes were played.

It was always likely that Wexford would face an Offaly side looking to up the tempo in the second period, and sure enough the visitors came out looking to make an impact.

However, Chloe Foxe kicked the first score in the 34th minute to give Wexford some added breathing space.

A few soft frees were going the visitors’ way at this stage as the momentum started to build, with points from Ellen McEvoy and Chloe Sheridan making it 0-8 to 0-3.

Little did anyone know at that stage, but the next Offaly score wouldn’t arrive for another 26 minutes, a late present from referee Kevin Phelan that McEvoy kicked over the crossbar five minutes into additional-time.

Meanwhile, Wexford slowed down the Offaly surge with strong work moving the ball out away from the press into attacking areas. Breaking a ten-minute spell without a score, Foxe kicked her third point to make it 0-9 to 0-3.

Kellie Kearney broke through one minute later and took a safe point with just Lauren Dunne to beat.

Four minutes later Cullen kicked her fourth point which was soon followed by the only major of the game, a composed finish by rare goalscorer Róisín Murphy, after being released into the clear by Sarah Harding-Kenny.

There was no coming back from a 1-11 to 0-3 deficit for Offaly, but Wexford weren’t finished. Grace Donovan kicked a point two minutes after her introduction and Bébhinn McDonald probably should have netted after racing through, only to slice wide.

A foul on Ciara Roban allowed Cullen to knock over her fifth score in added-time, with Offaly rounding out the afternoon with that second McEvoy point. Wexford face Westmeath on Sunday, with the Leinster final down for decision two weeks later.

Wexford: Sadbh McCarthy (Shelmalier); Katie English (Adamstown), Maria Byrne (Kilmore), Amanda Power (Gusserane); Ciara Banville (Taghmon-Camross, 0-1), Aisling Halligan (Clonard/Volunteers), Sarah Harding-Kenny (Shelmalier); Róisín Murphy (Shelmalier, capt., 1-0), Clara Donnelly (Shelmalier); Róisín Hughes (Kilanerin, 0-1), Kellie Kearney (Shelmalier, 0-1), Aoife Cullen (Gusserane, 0-5, 3 frees); Chloe Foxe (Clongeen, 0-3), Caitríona Murray (Clonee), Caoilfhionn Ní Nualláin (Ballygarrett-Réalt na Mara, 0-1). Subs. – Bébhinn McDonald (Kilanerin) for Hughes (44), Grace Donovan (Clongeen, 0-1) for Ní Nualláin (51), Ciara Roban (Baile Dubh Tíre) for Murray (56), Orlaith Byrne (Clonee) for Donnelly (59), Tara Doyle (Ballygarrett-Réalt na Mara) for Kearney (59).

Offaly: Lauren Dunne; Nicole Buckley, Michelle Mann, Anna Grehan; Nicole Farrelly, Emma Maher, Róisín Ennis; Amy Gavin-Mangan, Méabh Rouse; Kiah Farrell, Ellen McEvoy (capt., 0-2 frees), Marie Byrne; Ciara Walsh, Emma Hand (0-1 free), Chloe Sheridan (0-1). Subs. – Claire O’Brien for Walsh (31), Caoimhe Lynam for Hand (50), Róisín Cockram for Sheridan (50), Fiona Dempsey for Farrelly (54), Saoirse McGuinness for Gavin-Mangan (56).

Referee: Kevin Phelan (Laois).



Wexford 2 2 0 0 30 12 4

Westmeath 2 1 1 0 40 23 3

Offaly 2 0 1 1 18 30 1

Wicklow 2 0 0 2 17 40 0

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