Kelly the goalkeeping star as Wexford end famine
Wexford 1-12 New York1-10 - Tg4 All-Ireland ladies junior football final
Marie Byrne's first-half goal and a brilliant performance from goalkeeper Mary Rose Kelly were the key factors in Wexford's victory over New York in yesterday's TG4 All-Ireland ladies junior football championship final at Croke Park.
Kelly was magnificent between the sticks for the Slaneysiders as they finally ended their All-Ireland famine.
Wexford had lost senior finals in 1989, 1986 and 1983, while also finishing as intermediate runners up in 2007 and 1999.
Billy Donnelly's charges didn't need reminding either that they lost the 2013 junior final to Offaly, while also finishing second best in 1987 and 1986.
But all that previous heartbreak was washed away at GAA HQ when Ladies Gaelic Football Association president Pat Quill presented the West County Hotel Cup to Wexford captain Clara Donnelly.
Byrne netted in the 23rd minute, sending a rising drive beyond Nora Kilkenny and into the top corner of the New York net.
But Wexford had netminder Kelly to thank for a series of excellent saves that thwarted New York in the second half.
Kelly denied Linda McKeon and Courtney Traynor with a double save in the 38th minute but the pick of her stops was a wonderful tip-over from Alisha Jordan's blistering drive ten minutes from time.
Kelly also did well with four minutes remaining to keep out Mary 'Molly' O'Rourke's shot and while New York pulled a goal back through Traynor late on, Wexford held on as excellent corner-forward Chantelle Martin kicked her fourth point.
Wexford's dual star Fiona Rochford dragged an early penalty wide, after Niamh Moore was fouled when in the process of shooting, an offence that led to a sin-binning for New York's Caitlín Hynes.
But Wexford still led by 1-6 to 0-5 at half-time and looked well on course for victory when they led by six points on two occasions in the second half.
They suffered an early second-half blow when full-back Marica Cullen was sin-binned for persistent fouling but New York couldn't capitalise on the numerical advantage.
Traynor's late goal had the deficit back to the bare minimum but New York, junior runners-up in 2011, would suffer final heartbreak once again.
Three years ago, they lost a replay to Wicklow and that heartbreak drove them forward in search of extra-time.
But Wexford had learned from their own bitter experience from 12 months ago and that hurt got them over the line, thanks to Kelly's heroics.
Scorers - Wexford: C Martin & K Redmond (3fs), 0-4 each, M Byrne 1-0, R Murphy, N Moore, E O'Brien & N Cloake-Rochford 0-1 each. New York: C Traynor 1-2, M O'Rourke 0-5 (3fs), A Jordan 0-2, L McCullagh 0-1.
New York - N Kilkenny; A O'Rourke, J Moran, C Rafferty; C Hynes, S Tierney, C Scally; L McKeon, L McCullagh; K Donohue, B Tierney, A Jordan; E Clarke, M O'Rourke, C Traynor. Subs: I Mullarkey for Rafferty (16), M Brady for Tierney (24).
Wexford - M Kelly; L Casey, M Cullen, M Doyle; S Kehoe, C McCabe, C Neville; R Murphy, C Donnelly; N Moore, M Byrne, E O'Brien; K Redmond, F Rochford, C Martin. Subs: N Cloake-Rochford for Casey (25), N Butler for Murphy (h-t), J Coakley for Byrne (53), K Kearney for Neville (57).
Ref - Y Duffy (Cavan).