By Kieran Murphy
CARLOW got their All-Ireland camogie intermediate championship off to the best possible start when they bounced back from a first half five-point deficit to win convincingly in Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday.
Winning manager Brendan Phelan pointed out that key moments changed the game in his side’s favour while he also claimed a goal each side of half-time gave his side the platform to take the win.
It was all Wexford in the opening quarter. Two points from Emma Dempsey and one each from Ellen Roche, Eimear Nolan and Jessie Harding put Wexford in prime position to fashion a victory while Carlow opened their account on 22 minutes with a typical point from the experienced Ciara Quirke who made space for herself before shooting over at the scoreboard end of the ground.
Then an Eleanor Treacy long ball was gathered by Eibhe Lawler and she found the net with a confident strike. Treacy levelled matters with a free and from nowhere the sides were level – 0-5 to 1-2 – the break.
“We regrouped well at half-time but the goal really helped. Before the match we were a bit nervous. We lost the Leinster final to Kilkenny and confidence was down but we knew we had the measure of Wexford as we beat them before (in the Leinster championship),” pointed out Phelan.
Treacy nudged Carlow ahead early in the second half but Wexford came back to take the lead with further points from Dempsey, Clodagh Fitzhenry and Nolan. Another Treacy free reduced the deficit to a point.
On 41 minutes Wexford made a mess of a short puck-out and while Emma Coogan still had a lot to do she beat the defender to score Carlow’s second goal. From there the home side were always in command.
“We came back and the goal again turned things which put us two points up after being a goal down. We drove it home then,” said the Carlow manager.
The Carlow defence was superb in the last quarter. Ciara Quirke moved out the field. The ploy paid dividends.
“We looked and saw we weren’t winning enough ball across the half-forward line and we had to get Ciara on the ball and give her a free role. That worked for us,” said Phelan.
In the end Carlow won pulling away. With five of the starting forwards all scoring from play it is a string to their bow which Phelan was happy to acknowledge.
“They are all brilliant. As a manager we don’t want to pick individuals but we are not relying on only one player and that is the great thing about this group,” he said.
Carlow: Niamh Doyle; Michelle Nolan, Niamh Canavan, Shannon Kavanagh; Breege Nolan, Tara Wilson, Emma Cody; Caoimhe O’Neill, Eleanor Treacy (0-3 frees); Anna Breen, Eve Sinnott (0-2), Eibhe Lawlor (1-0); Emma Coogan (1-1), Ciara Quirke (0-3), Rachel Sawyer (0-1). Subs: Ali Ruschitzko (0-1) for Breen (43 mins), Aine Behan for Coogan (60 mins).
Wexford: Aine Wright; Marie Claire Byrne, Lorna Cushe, Ciara Donohoe; Aisling Haligan, Nessa Wickham, Emma Doyle; Chloe Cashe, Ellen Roche (0-2, 1f); Sarah Banville (0-1), Clodagh Fitzhenry (0-1), Orla Sinnott; Emma Dempsey (0-3), Eimear Nolan (0-2), Jessie Harding (0-1). Subs: Kate Devereaux (0-1) for Fitzhenry (35 mins), Oonagh Murphy for Harding (39 mins).
Referee: Gavin Donegan (Dublin).
Carlow’s next game is against Derry on Saturday (22 June) in Fenagh Training Centre at 5pm followed by games against Down (a) on 6 July, Tipperary (a) on 20 July and Laois (h) on 3 August.