Wexford 5-8 -
Roscommon’s aspirations to land league glory and gain promotion to Division Two next season were crushed by a rampant Wexford side at Clane, County Kildare, on Sunday last. When the sides met a couple of weeks ago, a fair degree of shadow boxing ensued in the knowledge that both counties were assured of their place in the last four. But, when it mattered, Roscommon spent the bulk of Sunday’s proceedings on the ropes, unable to reach the heights that the occasion demanded.
Ultimately, Roscommon were undone by the concession of five goals. To call them soft would be an understatement, and manager Michael Finneran certainly has some goalkeeping issues to address ahead of the upcoming Connacht and All-Ireland championships.
Yet Roscommon were never really at the races. They were just about in contention at the break, trailing by six points. But they never generated the momentum to sufficiently eat into their opponent’s lead, despite the backing of a strong wind for the second half, and a couple of quick Wexford goals in the final quarter sealed the Slaneysiders’ place in the final against Tipperary.
From the opening exchanges, it was clear that Anthony Masterson’s charges meant business. Clara Donnelly, Bernie Breen, Kellie Kearney and Catríona Murray were causing all sorts of problems for the Roscommon defence, running with intent and creating scoring chances.
Luckily from a Roscommon perspective, Wexford’s shooting was erratic. The excellent Aisling MacAulliffe and Amanda McLoone also stood firm as the Leinster side threatened to run riot.
Donnelly’s effort in the opening minute bounced over the crossbar to give her side the lead. Murray added another score two minutes later but 11 scoreless minutes followed to give Roscommon some renewed hope.
Just when it seemed that Roscommon were playing their way into contention, illustrated by a Jenny Higgins shot that was well saved by Mary Rose Kelly, disaster struck in the 14th minute. Carol Manning’s kickout was intercepted by Fiona Rowe and the Fethard player found the net with ease.
A point from Breen, following a surging run, added to Wexford’s tally before another unforced error by Manning gifted Wexford their second goal. Donnelly’s shot across the face of goal was gathered by the St. Faithleach’s ‘keeper but she spilled possession in the greasy conditions and Murphy was on hand to send the rebound to the net with the help of the post.
Trailing by 2-3 to 0-0 after 18 minutes, Roscommon were in deep trouble but they steadied the ship somewhat when Rebecca Finan converted a 24th minute free after a foul on Caoilionn Beirne. Then Natalie McHugh showed her class with a brace of points — one from a free and two from play. But a point from Murphy gave Wexford a 2-4 to 0-4 interval advantage.
Karin Roddy was introduced for Manning at half time but the Western Gaels player’s arrival couldn’t solve Roscommon’s problems. Finan did get the ball rolling with an excellent point but when Roscommon were caught napping from a quick free in the 39th minute, Donnelly fed Rowe who directed her effort into the corner of the net from an acute angle.
Eight points to the good, Wexford were more than comfortable for the remainder of the contest. Donnelly pointed after a good run from Kellie Kearney. Points from Murphy and Murray (a free) followed before Donnelly looped an effort into the corner of the net.
MacAuliffe stopped the rot briefly when her delivery bounced over the crossbar. Substitute Rachel Fitzmaurice quickly added another score but Wexford’s fifth goal soon arrived when Niamh Butler’s effort from the right wing slipped through the hands of Roddy into the net. Ellen O’Brien also tagged on another score for the winners.
Two Jenny Higgins efforts were of little consolation to Roscommon who must simply dust themselves down and get ready for the championship later in the summer.