2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

Wexford Senior Championship Final

Wexford Senior Championship Final


Shelmalier 2-9, Clonee 1-11:

The capacity of great rivals Shelmalier and Clonee to serve up county final thrillers knows no bounds.

Sunday evening’s Senior ladies football championship decider in Bellefield was another epic, with the Over the Water crew wrestling the title back from their four-in-a-row seeking rivals in the closing stages of a memorable encounter.

Shelmalier didn’t take the lead for the first time until the 51st minute, but they displayed dogged determination and no little ability to win the Noel Quill Memorial Cup for the first time – a piece of silverware that is very close to their hearts.

It was hard luck on Clonee, who were on the right side of a one-point winning margin last year, but they also contributed richly to a game that got better and better as it progressed.

While Kate Kelly drove an early chance across the goal and wide for the Shels, Clonee had no such problems as they motored into a 1-2 to nil lead after six minutes.

The youthful Mairéad Sheehan and speed merchant Georgina Moore picked off points before Liz Evered won a poor kick-out and placed Caroline Murphy for a well-taken goal.

Shelmalier mentors moved quickly to shore up their defence by putting Fiona Cullen back on Moore, and she held her scoreless thereafter although the corner-forward still posed a lot of problems.

The Wexford District crew hit four wides, while a Michelle Hearne shot was turned on to the crossbar by her rival captain, Marian Brownrigg, before they opened their account in the 14th minute.

And what a tonic score it was, as Hearne grabbed a cross from the right by Maeve Quill and finished it to the net from close range (1-2 to 1-0).

Moments later Mag Kelly earned a penalty when the ball was pulled out of her hand after she won a Deirdre McMahon delivery, but Shelly Doyle sent the spot kick to the left and wide.

County colleagues Deirdre Fox and Liz Evered exchanged points from frees before the latter followed up an earlier effort from her twin, Ali, to stretch the Clonee advantage to 1-5 to 1-1.

However, Shelmalier finished the half brightly as Deirdre Fox tapped over a free before she set up Bridget Curran for their first point from play in the fifth minute of added time.

As the second-half wore on, it looked like Clonee would hold out for a fourth successive title – purely because they were able to hit back with a point every time Shelmalier edged closer.

Deirdre Fox narrowed the gap early on from a free, with a goalbound Josie Dwyer shot then blocked by Leona Tector before Georgina Moore picked out Ali Evered for a 34th-minute point (1-6 to 1-4).

Once again the margin was brought down to one, this time by Mag Kelly from a Shelly Doyle pass, but Liz Evered set up Caroline Murphy who made it 1-7 to 1-5 at the end of the third quarter.

Bridget Curran¹s second point kept Shelmalier well in the hunt, although they conceded two quick scores at a critical juncture to Ali Evered and Caroline Murphy (1-9 to 1-6).

At this stage Shelmalier really showed what they are made of, with Deirdre Fox finding Curran for her third crucial point before that vital second goal arrived in the 51st minute. Who better to finish it than team captain Michelle Hearne, as she got on the end of a Kate Kelly cross from the right and palmed it to the net at the country end (2-7 to 1-9).

All was not lost for Clonee, although they found it harder to create space up front as Shelmalier deployed an extra defender in Shelly Doyle – most unlucky to be substituted in Croke Park seven days earlier.

A foul on Caroline Murphy led to Liz Evered equalising in the 57th minute, but the lively Deirdre McMahon restored the Shels lead from a pass by Kate Kelly whose influence on the game was immense in the closing stages in particular.

It was great stuff at this stage, and Clonee seemed to have earned a draw when Caroline Murphy found Liz Evered who kicked a fine point under pressure with five seconds of normal time left (1-11 to 2-8).

However, the Shels struck for a winner which was fashioned by Kate Kelly who showed great composure as she soloed from her own half deep into opposition territory before off-loading to her sister, Mag, who was fouled.

It was fitting that Deirdre Fox should bounce back to strike the winner from the free after having a difficult day in Croker, and her cool finish ensured that Shelmalier will be travelling to Ballyboden on Sunday next to launch an all-out assault on the Leinster club championship.

Shelmalier: Tara Moloney; Maeve Quill, Catherine Doyle, Martina Pender; Fiona Cullen, Nikki Scallan, Leona Tector; Shelly Doyle, Sandy Carr; Mag Kelly (0-1), Kate Kelly, Deirdre Fox (0-4 frees); Bridget Curran (0-3), Deirdre McMahon (0-1), Michelle Hearne (capt., 2-0). Subs. – Kim Moloney for Carr, also Charlotte McCormack, Laura Corrigan, Ceara O¹Brien, Lisa Quill, Irene Fagan, Sharon Carr, Anne-Marie Kelly, Josepha Buttle, Mag Doherty, Anne-Marie Cullen, Mary Cullen, Michelle O¹Brien, Aimee Fox, Caroline Curran, Katie Duggan.

Clonee: Marian Brownrigg (capt.); Mary Leacy, Stephanie Murray, Martina Murray; Deirdre Burke, Linda Burke, Mary O¹Neill; Ciara Scallan, Ceri McNichol; Josie Dwyer, Caroline Murphy (1-2), Ali Evered (0-3); Liz Evered (0-4, 2 frees), Mairéad Sheehan (0-1), Georgina Moore (0-1). Subs. – Marie McDonald for McNichol, Miriam Smyth for A. Evered, also Edel Kehoe, Trish Murphy, Helena Murray, Rachel Collier, Emma Gleeson, Orla Whelan, Marguerite Doyle, Brídín Doyle, Laura O¹Leary, Mairéad Lancaster, Aideen Nolan, Bríd Kavanagh, Ciana Fitzgerald.

Referee: Niall McDonald (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).

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