Wicklow Under 14 Ladies scored a comprehensive victory over Wexford in the under 14 leinster championship match played in St Anne’s, Wexford last Saturday 19th April. The winning margin of 11 points on a scoreline of 5-7 to 1-8, does not reflect the overall superiority of the Wicklow players. Wickow supporters and management were delighted to see a return to collective determination and will to win that had been absent in recent matches.

A common phenomenon of sports is that adversity can have the effect of galvanising and binding together a team. In this case the disquiet surrounding the fixture seemed to add a huge passion to win to the girls’ play.

Management and supporters felt aggrieved that that a game originally scheduled as a home match for Wicklow to be played in the county grounds in Arklow was at the last minute, at the request of Wexford, transferred to Wexford as a home game. Despite Wexford’s best endeavours (sic) the only pitch available was located south of Baldwinstown – 7 miles from Kilmore Quay – the furthest point from Arklow in Wexford. Further problems arising from the late fixture change was that the Wicklow were given a kick-off time of 2pm with Wexford insisting on the day that the scheduled time was 1.30pm resulting in a very curtailed warm-up time for Wicklow. All these events made the players even more determined to succeed and right from the start the girls tore into the match despite facing into a very strong wind.

Within 1 minute Wicklow’s inspirational captain Aife Kavanagh cut through the Wexford defence and set up the corner forward Kayleigh Crammond for a goal scoring opportunity which went narrowly wide. However the message was clear. A couple of minutes later Kavanagh galloped through the stationary Wexford defence and planted a ball in the net past the hapless goalkeeper. The game ebbed and flowed with Wexford availing of the wind to tagging on three points to equal the score by the 13th minute. At this point of the game Ciera Callanan, Meadbh Deeley, Laura Allen and Suzanne O’Neil were winning a lot of ball and the forwards were tormenting the Wexford defence. Aife Kavanagh in particular seemed to be everywhere as she grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. On the 20th minute Wicklow landed their second goal with a superb individual score by Erinne Murphy following excellent approach play by Laura Allen and Shauna Fleming. Erinne Murphy added a neat point a couple of minutes later. Wexford managed to claw themselves back into the game with 4 unanswered points and to leave the sides level with minutes to go to half time. On the stroke of half time Wexford’s full forward scored a powerful goal that Lucy Cushe was powerless to stop. Wexford were leading at half time by 1-7 to 2-1.

Given the flow of the game and the fact that the first half was played into a very stiff wind, Wicklow were confident that they would prevail. The second half was all one way traffic. Kayleigh Crammond opened the score with a cracking goal after 3 minutes shortly followed by an Aife Kavanagh free. A further two goals and a point were added by the irrepressible Kavanagh and put daylight between the teams. Wicklow were on top in all areas of the pitch and it was a defensive action by Wexford to keep the score respectable. Ciera Callanan, Breedin Geoghegan and Hannah Tew were outstanding in the Wicklow back line and were ably assisted by debutante Vivienne Walsh, Naoise Baker and Calvin Swart. Lucy Cushe again was outstanding in the goals for the team. At midfield Shauna Fleming ruled the roost and was assisted in no small measure by Naomi Roche who was particularly strong in the second half.

Confusion reigned at the end of the second half for the referee inexplicably played twelve minutes of extra time. Nevertheless this result should ensure that Wickow qualify for a Leinster ‘A’ semi-final which would be a fantastic achievement for the county given that Wicklow have been performing solely in the ‘B’ championship previously. All the panel members will have gained great experience from playing at the highest level of ladies football.

Wicklow’s next match is against Dublin – the current All Ireland champions under 14 – to be played at a Wicklow venue on 3rd May.

Wicklow Team: Team:Lucy Cushe, Breedin Geoghegan, Hannah Tew, Vivienne Walsh, Calvin Swart, Ciera Callanan,Naoise Baker, Naomi Roche, Shauna Fleming, Suzanne O’Neil, Laura Allen, Meadbh Deeley, Erinne Murphy, Aife Kavanagh, Kayleigh Crammond. Subs:Claire Walsh, Aine O’Reilly

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