Kildare Hold Off Determined Wexford

Wexford winning the coin toss played with the stiff breeze towards the town goal in the first half and Fiona Rochford had pointed twice before Kildare’s Noelle Early pulled one back in the fifth minute. Wexford were unlucky not to go further ahead after seven minutes when Catriona Murray’s shot from a free came back off the crossbar and a minute later Kildare were level with a Róisín Byrne point. Fiona Rochford scored her third point before Róisín Byrne pointed two, one from a 14m free. Wexford levelled again when Aleisha Cullen pointed after good play from Maria Byrne. Kildare responded with points from a Róisín Byrne free and one from Captain Aisling Holton. Kildare were playing well into the breeze and could have gone further ahead but Natasha Walsh in the Wexford goal pulled off a good save from the inrushing Aisling Holton. Fiona Rochford, who was causing the Kildare defence all sorts of trouble, scored Wexford’s fifth point before the dangerous Mikaela McKenna scored her first point to put Kildare two up. Wexford did get one back before the break when Fiona Rochford put Catriona Murray through and she split the posts to leave 0-7 to 0-6 in Kildare’s favour.

Wexford were now against  the elements but right from the throw in they made their intentions known when Maria Byrne soloed through, passed to Fiona Rochford and she levelled the score. Straight from the kick out Wexford’s Captain Róisín Murphy won the ball, soloed her way into the square and planted the ball into the corner of Mary Hulgraine’s goal. Kildare were rocked but got a point back when Ellen Dowling pointed a 14m free. Wexford had chances to increase their lead but Catriona Murray was struggling to kick frees against the wind and missed three with one of them hitting the post. Kildare came into the game with points from an Ellen Dowling free, two from Mikaela McKenna and Róisín Byrne from a 50m free. Wexford levelled it up when Catriona Murray pointed a 25m free to leave the sides level for the fifth time. Wexford now had the bit between their teeth with the defence mopping everything up and the forwards running at the Kildare defence and they went ahead when midfielder Clare Donnelly ran in and pointed. Fiona Bennett, who was returning from injury, was introduced and she won the ball, passed to Catriona Murray who went on a mazy run and scored a great point and Wexford were looking good. Play was held up a while for  Aleisha Cullen to receive treatment coming  out on the wrong side of a heavy challenge from Aisling Savage, this break in play  gave Kildare a chance to regroup. Wexford did get the next point when Fiona Rowe, who had just replaced Cullen, was fouled and Caitriona Murray pointed the 20m free. Kildare then got a lucky break when Maria Moolick toe poked the ball to the net after a mix up in the Wexford defence and you could see their confidence coming back and they drove on. Róisín Byrne pointed to put them in the lead and Ellen Dowling increased it with a 30m free before Kildare were further boosted when Róisín Murphy was  yellow carded.  Kildare scored four points within two minutes as Wexford struggled to win their own kick outs to put them six up, Eadaoin Connolly, Mikaela McKenna (2) and Noelle Earley the scorers. Wexford then got the score of the game when Niamh Mernagh broke up a Kildare attack passed to Clara Donnelly who sent it on to Fiona Rochford. She went on a good run and left footed a great shot into the roof of the Kildare net from 20m. Wexford did try to reel Kildare back in but they managed to hold out and break down the field and Maria Moolick got the insurance point to leave them ahead by four points at the final whistle.
While Wexford were disappointed with the result they can be happy with their display on the day. Kildare are one of the favourites for the All Ireland, having lost out in last years decider and for a while on Sunday it looked like Wexford could win, so they should look forward to the All Ireland series which begins in a few weeks time.
Wexford: Natasha Walsh, Ciara Corrigan, Marica Cullen, Niamh Mernagh, Beth Cardiff, Róisín Murphy (Captain) 1-0. Maria Byrne, Clara Donnelly 0-1, Niamh Moore, Kellie Kearney, Fiona Rochford 1-5, Ellen O’Brien, Aleisha Cullen 0-1, Catriona Murray 0-4, Maeve Quill. Subs: Siobhán Cloake for Moore, Fiona Bennett for Quill, Fiona Rowe for Aleisha Cullen, Bríd Byrne, Bridín Doyle, Niamh Cloake Rochford, Eleanor Neville, Caoimhe Denton, Trina Sinnott, Emer Cahill, Caoimhe Roche, Rachel Bridges, Anna Byrne, Aoife McAuliffe, Marguerite Doyle.
Kildare: Mary Hulgraine, Trina Duggan, Paula Keatley, Rachel Cribben, Shauna Kendrick, Michaela Nolan, Rachel Reidy, Erica Burke, Aisling Holton (Captain) 0-1, Róisín Byrne 0-6, Maria Moolick 1-1, Eadaoin Connolly 0-1, Mikaela McKenna 0-5, Noelle Early 0-2, Ellen Dowling 0-2. Subs: Aisling Savage for Nolan, Tara Hallinan for Duggan, Jane O’Donoghue for Keatley, Aoife Molyneaux for Hulgraine, Emer Fogarty, Rachael Corrigan, Orlaith Moran, Grainne Lyons, Briona Hoban, Niamh Mulhall, Grace Clifford.

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