(after extra time)
By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Cork displayed all the traits that have won them the last two Liberty Insurance All-Ireland senior camogie titles to finally put a gritty Wexford away after extra time. There had never been more than two points between the teams and they were deadlocked after 70 minutes on 0-14 apiece.
Kate Kelly lofted a mammoth score from a free in the middle of the field soon after the resumption and the 36-year-old’s eighth point pushed Wexford ahead. They weren’t to score again though as Cork finally opened up and registered the last five points. Orla Cotter made it level for the 11th time from a free before Cork profited from the increasing space with points from Katrina Mackey, the magnificent Hannah Looney, Mackey and dual star Briege Corkery.
Aoife Murray made a late save from Chloe Foxe and Cork’s place in the decider on September 11 was assured. It was the only time there had been daylight between two wellmatched outfits.
Cork skipper Ashling Thompson had another typically industrious performance and the Milford star had the ball over the bar after just 45 seconds, shortening the grip well and finishing off her left on the run after first blocking an attempted clearance by Sarah O’Connor on the 45.
Wexford attempted to leave space in front of the full-forward line and in particular goal machine Úna Leacy – who had Cork’s other dual hero Rena Buckley in close attendance at all times, while Laura Treacy was Kate Kelly’s escort. Cork were looking to adopt similar tactics and the result was a congested middle third.
When the sliotar did travel goalwards though, it was the defences that were on top but in the end, Wexford were heavily reliant on Kelly for scores from placed balls, while Cork scored 16 points from play. Gemma O’Connor and Thompson were very prominent as Cork went 3-1 ahead but the excellent newcomer, Emma Walsh scored from almost 65m as Wexford fought back.
Corkery, Thompson and Looney hit points for Cork, Linda Bolger, Úna Leacy – after a trademark catch from a Kelly delivery – and Kelly did the business at the other end. There were few goal opportunities but Wexford’s Mags D’Arcy was the busier of the custodians and she made one vital intervention to deny Amy O’Connor.
The teams went in at the break on 0-8 apiece but as tight as that opening period was, the second was cagier again, producing only six points in total. Corkery was denied a goal by D’Arcy while at the other end, Úna Leay struck the side-netting with a rare opportunity.
Pamela Mackey and Walsh were among the leading personalities but it looked like Cork had done enough when Cotter landed a couple of frees to put Paudie Murray’s outfit 0-11 to 0-9 clear. Wexford threw everything at them in the closing moments though and after Kelly raised another white flag, Katrina Parrock arced over another equaliser, with just eight seconds of the three minutes of injury time remaining.
The shackles finally came off in the added 20 minutes, although weariness undoubtedly contributed to the increased space.
The game provided three points in the opening three minutes, including a peach from Mary Leacy, while D’Arcy had to be alert to save from Amy O’Connor but once more, they ended a period of play on parity.
Then Kelly shot her brilliant score and you wondered if that might inspire the Model County women, like has been the case so often. Instead, it was Cork who found another level.