Cork 3-12 Wexford 1-8
CORK got their opening game of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland championship off to a winning start in Páirc Uí Rinn and, due to their first round walkover from Offaly, are now guaranteed at least an All-Ireland quarter final spot ahead of their trip to Galway next Sunday.
While the final score flattered Cork after Amy O’Connor and Saoirse McCarthy hit two goals minutes before full time, they will be glad to have got rid of their championship cobwebs. Cork were dealt a blow the day before the game with the news that Gemma O’Connor was unavailable and could miss the next few weeks.
Ballygarvan’s Izzy O’Regan, Sarsfields’ Ellen Murphy and Fiona Keating of Courcey Rovers all made their championship debut as Cork finished the first quarter four points to three in front in a low scoring opening half.
Cork’s short passing game got them in trouble time and again with Wexford playing a defensive style and closing them down at every turn. It was clear that Amy O’Connor and Linda Collins had the speed inside to cause problems but supply was short and slow. Cork were getting turned over and they need to have the mind-set to switch to the long ball when things aren’t going their way.
Wexford conceded five goals to Galway last weekend and quite obviously that was something they wanted to prevent again. But they sacrificed their attack for it in that opening period while playing with a nice wind. Often playing just two inside their scoring threat was minimal, picking off a low six points in the first 30 minutes, two from play.
Cork led 1-8 to 0-6 at half time after Amy O’Connor, who was clearly on her game, finished a nice Linda Collins pass to the net. There was complacency in Cork’s play at times, twice getting hooked when initially there was plenty of time to get the ball away.
In addition, with the new ruling of not having to wait for the referee to approve a puckout, Cork were guilty of not using that to their advantage when at times there clearly was an advantage on.
Cork were the better side against a Wexford team rebuilding but they weren’t making it count and Wexford could have and should have had the game level five minutes into the second half.
A defensive mix-up afforded Shelley Kehoe the opportunity to pull on a loose ball to the net reducing the gap to two and Wexford were handed two scoreable frees but failed to convert which would have seen the sides on level terms.
Orla Cronin was unerring from frees, with a 100% conversion rate, and three second half frees by the 52nd minute saw Cork four points clear but not yet having scored again from play with supply slow inside.
Every time Cork hit a long fast ball in they got something from it, with a forward line very capable of doing damage, and it was that which saw Cork close the game out.
Substitute Cliona Healy did very well to win possession in the corner when the odds were stacked against her and her offload to Amy O’Connor saw the Cork Captain hit the net from close range. A minute later another substitute Saoirse McCarthy finished a fast move for Cork’s third goal.
The game was out of Wexford’s reach when Linda Bolger struck a 20-metre free for goal which was well saved by Amy Lee as Wexford exited the championship.
It was a stop-start second half with too many yellow cards unnecessarily shown. Cork looked rusty but will be thankful of the game ahead of next week’s clash between the table’s top two.
Scorers for Cork: O Cronin 0-9 f, A O’Connor 2-2, S McCarthy 1-0, L Collins 0-1.
Wexford: S Kehoe 1-2, L Bolger 0-4 f, C Foxe, A Curran 0-1 each.
CORK: A Lee, E Murphy, L Tracey, M Cahalane; P Mackey, H Looney, L Hayes; C Sigerson, A Thompson; I O’Regan, O Cronin, K Mackey; F Keating, L Collins, A O’Connor.
Subs: C Healy for K Mackey (52), S McCarthy for F Keating (57), L Coppinger for C Sigerson (60).
WEXFORD: L Brennan; L Dempsey, A Lacey, L O’Leary; A Hennessy, K O’Connor, E Walsh; C O’Connor, L Bolger; A Curran, J Quigley, C Foxe; J Dillon, S Kehoe, S O’Connor.
Sub: T Doyle for C Foxe (57).
Referee: John McDonagh (Galway).