Young guns go close
THE FUTURE of Wexford women's soccer was shown to be in good hands last weekend in Limerick when the league's Under-16 squad finished runners-up in the National Inter-League competition.
Fresh on the heels of the Under-14 squad which won the plate in their competition a month previously, a very strong Under-16 squad travelled to what is traditionally a very competitive age group.
Coaches Eugene Byrne and Barry Dempsey were confident that the squad was ready for the challenge and their faith in the players was rewarded on Friday evening when they ran out 30 winners against Limerick County. Wexford were always in control in this game and goals from Aoibhinn Webb, Ciara Rossiter and Chloe Fox saw them open the tournament with a victory in a game that could have been a potential banana skin.
Saturday morning saw the girls come up against the Dublin Metropolitan League and this match between the two biggest schoolgirl leagues in the country saw a very competitive scoreless draw. This result saw both sides move into a very strong position in the group and when Wexford beat North Tipperary that afternoon, the result sealed their place in the semi-finals of the competition.
Mary Tyrell and Eimear Mullins were both on target in this match where Wexford were looking very impressive with Under-17 internationals Ciara Rossiter and Lauren Dwyer both excelling. With qualification to the last four secured, the coaches used the last game against Mayo as an opportunity to rotate the squad and, despite a very good performance, they went down 2-0.
The complex nature of how the competition was run saw Mayo qualify as well for the semifinal where they once again drew Wexford, but this time the girls were in no mood to make any mistakes and reached the final courtesy of goals from Aoibhinn Webb and Mary Tyrell.
This set up a final with a very strong and physical Cork side who had looked very impressive over the weekend as they had romped through their group without conceding a goal. The firsthalf of the final proved to be very tentative and it was Cork who broke the deadlock with a goal five minutes from half-time, but Wexford went immediately on the attack and had a Ciara Rossiter shot cleared off the line.
Two goals in five minutes shortly into the second-half saw Cork take control of the match and, despite their best efforts, the Wexford girls were unable to break down the Cork defence. Another goal just before the end put a flattering 4-0l scoreline on the game as, although the Munster side were the better team, they were not four goals better than a Wexford side who never gave up and battled to the end
Once again great credit must go to the coaches and minders who dedicated a lot of time to this squad, but the players themselves were a credit to the league with their behaviour being, on and off the field, second to none. Well done to all involved.
Squad: Tamara Furlong (Ferns United), Georgia Warren (St. Joseph's), Geraldine Doolan (Curracloe), Sophie Donnelly (St. Joseph's), Cáit McCarthy (Killenagh Wanderers), Rachel Casey (Ballindaggin), Lauren Dwyer (St. Joseph's, Carlow), Rebecca Kearney (Bunclody), Mary Carroll (North End), Ciara Rossiter (Forth Celtic), Aoibhinn Webb (St. Joseph's, Carlow), Mary Tyrrell (Shelbourne), Noeleen Shanahan (Curracloe), Chloe Fox (Forth Celtic), Róisín O Connor (Killenagh Wanderers), Nicole Gethings-Farrell (Bunclody), Siobhán Grant-Moorehead (Shelbourne), Meghan Whitty (Shelbourne), Leanne Foley (Seaview), Eimear Mullins (Seaview). Coaches: Eugene Byrne, Barry Dempsey. Minders: Sarah Merrigan, Elaine Casey, Annette Foley, Laura Heffernan.