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Wexford Minor camogie team make a bright start with win over Dublin

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Sunday brought an uplifting start to the Wexford Minor camogie crew’s competitive year, as a focused second-half showing at sunny Killurin avenged last year’s Leinster Cup semi-final exit to Dublin when the sides renewed rivalries at the same stage.

While they couldn’t be separated at half-time (0-6 apiece), many of the Wexford players – but not all, mind – could be accused of not being sufficiently tuned-in during the opening period.

But that was far from the case thereafter, as the purple and golds met the second-half with much greater concentration across the field to set up a final showdown this Sunday against Kilkenny, who accounted for Offaly (2-17 to 1-4) on the other side of the draw.

And once that item of silverware is decided, Wexford are scheduled to be back in the thick of it against none other than Dublin again, with Wexford enjoying home venue once more, in a first round Group A game in the All-Ireland Shield championship on March 3.

Mary Byrne of Wexford breaking free of Beth Maguire (Dublin).

The hope is that Wexford can rise to the challenge against Kilkenny first to claim provincial honours before moving on to ensure that they tame the Dubs again, because as much as participation is valued, becoming serial winners is what is most desired.

The enthusiasm vibrates through this group, where the likes of centre-back Jane Murphy, Layla Stafford together with Katie Bolger, Karen Hayden and Abbie Doyle really hit the right notes, and substitutes Ciara Kavanagh, Lucia Goggins and Kate Flood all made positive impacts too.

But Wexford struggled to make enough stick up front in the first-half, during which the defence was efficient in limiting a lively Dublin, who sparked initial concern when forging a 0-3 to 0-1 lead inside ten minutes, Karen Hayden having negated their first score with a seventh-minute response.

Glynn-Barntown’s Jane Murphy, on her home patch, offered real inspiration when being involved in scores from Róisin Egan and Katie Bolger to tie matters up at 0-3 apiece midway through the half, before Abbie Doyle nudged Wexford in front for the first time after 18 minutes.

And another member of the host club, ’keeper Jane Duggan, also distinguished herself when being sharp to prevent a deflection off Dublin full-forward Aoife Ní Drisceoil from finding the net, before saving from the Sky Blues dangerous centre-forward Caitlin McKenna one minute later.

Wexford also brought the best out of Dublin stopper Mia Farrell in the next attack when Layla Stafford fed joint-captain Karen Hayden to draw an intervention.

Róisín Egan of Wexford racing away from Aoife Kane (Dublin).

The momentum of the half suggested Dublin might be enjoying a profit at the break, and that’s how it seemed after an unanswered three-point burst turned the tables by 0-6 to 0-4.

But Wexford were really warming to the battle, and Katie Bolger added a sublime score, before Karen Hayden tied matters at the turn from a free.

The positive reaction from Wexford after the half-time promptings from a management including former Wexford hurling ace Adrian Fenlon was reflected in quickfire scores from Orla O’Rourke and Katie Bolger to move ahead by 0-8 to 0-6.

Dublin levelled again before Abbie Doyle got on the end of a free from Layla Stafford to regain the home side’s lead of the scoreboard.

And Wexford soared into a 1-9 to 0-8 advantage on 42 minutes when Kayla Reddy forced home in a goalmouth scramble after Abbie Doyle had been denied by an initial save.

Orla O’Rourke made it 1-10 to 0-8 before the Dubs struck back with a fortuitous 45th-minute goal, when Eimear Kehoe lobbed past a ’keeper unfortunately blinded by the sun.

Wexford remained calm as a Karen Hayden double (one free) and another from Abbie Doyle – the latter’s shot being deflected over – left them 1-13 to 1-9 clear on 52 minutes.

Both goals experienced close shaves near the end, while the Dubs pegged back a consolation point in the closing stages.

Wexford: Jane Duggan (Glynn-Barntown); Emma O’Leary (Glynn-Barntown), Leagh Maddock (St. Martin’s, joint-capt.), Caoimhe Tobin (St. Ibar’s/Shelmalier); Eirin O’Brien (Blackwater), Jane Murphy (Glynn-Barntown), Erin McDonald (Cloughbawn); Layla Stafford (Glynn-Barntown), Mary Byrne (Ferns St. Aidan’s); Katie Bolger (Ballygarrett, 0-3), Orla O’Rourke (Kilrush, 0-2), Róisín Egan (Buffers Alley, 0-1); Karen Hayden (Oylegate-Glenbrien, joint-capt., 0-4, 2 frees), Kayla Reddy (Rathnure, 1-0), Abbie Doyle (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy, 0-3). Subs. – Ciara Kavanagh (Buffers Alley) for Byrne (HT), Lucia Goggins (St. Martin’s) for McDonald (HT), Kate Flood (Cloughbawn) for O’Brien (45).

Dublin: Mia Farrell; Maebh Bolger, Seodhna Ó Riain, Éile Caffrey; Ava O’Shea, Anna Marie Durkan (capt.), Emma Maher; Eva Pennie, Aoife Kane; Eimear Kehoe (1-2), Caitlin McKenna (0-5, 3 frees), Beth Maguire; Gemma Connolly (0-2), Aoife Ní Drisceoil, Alex Hodgins (0-1). Subs. – Ruby Davis for Ní Drisceoil (36), Éabha Gannon for Kane (36), Aimee Timothy for Maguire (45), Laoise Conaghan for Connolly (57).

Referee: Owen Beehan (Kilkenny).

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