THERE was disappointment for the Louth Ladies in Clane on Sunday, as they were unable to repeat last year's exploits and progress to a second successive All-Ireland final.
Despite already losing to their opponents earlier in the campaign Louth started confidently, laying claim to the majority of possession and applying pressure to the Wexford defence. Kate Flood and Jenny McGuinness opened the scoring as Louth's forward line began to out muscle the Wexford defence.
Despite a point an early point and a fantastic save from Una Pearson, Wexford were largely contained in their own half, as Flood and Rebecca Carr added to Louth's tally.
Amy McNally popped up to score the game's only goal. A long ball from midfield bounced deceptively over her head, but with lightning pace she spun past her marker and showed immense courage to poke the ball into the net with her foot as four players dashed towards her. Wexford would score twice more with Flood going agonisingly close to adding a second goal just before half time as Louth adjourned 1-4 to 0-5 to the good.
Sandra Lynch and Marie O'Connell, who was playing as a sweeper, controlled Louth's defence, however, injuries in the first half to both Rebecca Carr and Ciara O'Connor were huge blows, and both players energetic and effervescent style would be sorely missed as the game progressed.
Wexford re-emerged the stronger team in the opening part of the second half. Another brilliant save by Una Pearson kept Louth in front, but Wexford would score three unanswered points to snatch the lead. Yet another injury left hearts in mouths of those wearing red and white in the stands, as Louth stalwart and Captain Grace Lynch took a hefty blow to her leg and looked to be in some pain. Rising to her feet she moved into the forward line and continued to lead her team despite the pain.
Susan Byrne restored parity, with Amy McNally the architect following a scorching run. Danielle Sharkey hit the crossbar moments later and Susan Byrne was unlucky not to steer the ball goalward in the ensuing scramble.
As full time approached points from Siobhan McDonald and Susan Byrne were matched by Wexford and as the final whistle blew the teams were level, 1-7 to 0-10, so for the second time this year Louth and Wexford could not be separated in normal time.
Unfortunately for Ciaran Marks' ladies it was Wexford who came out on top in extra time. Louth began to visibly tire, as injuries and the intensity of the game took their toll. Wexford were able to act clinically scoring five points to Louth's one.
Disappointment was obvious amongst the players and management, but with the majority of the team between the age of 17 and 25 this Louth team has shown itself to have a bright future and no doubt they will be back and looking to go one better next year.
Louth: Una Pearson, Bronagh McGrane, Michelle McMahon, Ann Marie Lynch, Aíne McGee, Sandra Lynch, Aoife Halligan, Grace Lynch (capt.), Siobhan McDonald, Rebecca Carr, Kate Flood, Michelle O'Connell, Amy McNally, Jenny McGuinness, Ciara O'Connor.
Wexford: Mary Rose Kelly, Linda casey, Aoife Fitzpatrick, Maguerite Doyle, Sharon Kehoe, Catroina McCabe, Clara Donnelly, Roisin Murphy, Kelly Kearney, Ellen O'Brien, Aisling Murphy, Ali Evered, Liz Evered, Leona Tector, Katie Redmond.