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Camogie: Littlewoods All-Ireland championships: Wexford 4-13, Meath 4-9
Wexford retained their Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior camogie championship status for 2020 with victory over Meath in the relegation play-off at Clane on Wednesday.
Having lost all ten of their previous matches, the win was their first of the season and means the Slaneysiders avoid the huge embarrassment of dropping to the second tier just seven years after completing a three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles.
Much like Wexford got what their performance level warranted out of those first ten games, they claimed the win they deserved from this one.
Meath were gutsy and more of a team unit than Barry Kennedy's side, but they didn't have the individual talent of their opponents.
Wexford had the game-changers in the attacking ranks and they did enough damage to negate a loose defensive effort at the other end.
While there was only four points in it at the end, that was a bit of a false reading, as the gap was ten with five minutes to go, only for Wexford to wilt a little.
The stunted pre-season could easily be blamed for those six points, while exactly where Wexford would have been this season with proper preparation is absolutely impossible to quantify.
It has become a recurring theme in recent seasons, but it should be mentioned again as maybe someone in a position of power within Wexford camogie might take the bull by the horns this time and not risk further long-term damage:
The time for getting things ready for next season is in the next six to eight weeks, not the start of January, which turns into the end of March.
Wexford County Board needs to immediately start the process of recruiting a management team. The incumbent can re-apply if he wishes, but it's time for the executive to be harsh, as the last few months haven't been good enough, simple as that.
Cork, Galway and Kilkenny don't bounce from one season to the next with no plan, and no vision, so why should Wexford?
The County Board also need to remember they have been elected to run Wexford camogie, and part of their remit is to select a Senior manager and make sure he or she has all the tools available to do that job to the best of their ability.
There is absolutely zero scope for the County Board to attribute blame to the players for the acquisition of the manager.
The players are there to play, whereas the executive are there to create the environment to succeed, and that includes hiring the best county Senior manager available.
There is a will around the county for Wexford camogie to succeed, but people understand there are issues right through the system. Words count for nothing when there is very little evidence of progress.
At least Wexford had the measure of Meath, a side they beat by 32 points in the Leinster championship last season.
They did fall behind in the opening minute when Aoife Minogue twisted and turned before drilling past Lara O'Shea.
Mags Byrne replied with a classy point on the right, and Wexford hit the front when Joanne Dillon hared away on the other wing before crashing a shot past Maggie Randle.
Jane Dolan levelled the game, but her next free dropped short and Lisa Foley whipped it home.
Meath led by 2-3 to 1-2 after eleven minutes but they would only add a Cheyanne O'Brien point in the remainder of the half as Wexford took control.
Chloe Foxe dropped a free short that deflected off a Royal hand and ended in the net.
Foxe levelled the game before Byrne put Wexford ahead, and they would not be caught.
Foxe knocked over three frees before the break, which was enough to give her side a 2-7 to 2-4 lead at the change of ends.
When Amy Cardiff pointed in the 39th minute, the Wexford lead was four.
However, almost from nothing Minogue won another one-on-one battle and drilled past O'Shea again to make it 2-9 to 3-5.
While Wexford had plenty of the ball and often lacked a clinical final pass, they did enough in the next spell of dominance to wrap up the win. Anais Curran and Foxe pointed before the latter drilled home a penalty after Aoife Guiney was pulled back.
Joanne Dillon, who was probably Wexford's stand-out performer, raced away and thumped a cracking finish to the top left corner of the net to increase the advantage. After both midfielders scored, the Slaneysiders led by 4-13 to 3-6 after 55 minutes.
There were still a few nervy moments as Meath finished with 1-3 without reply, including a Kristina Troy goal, but Wexford had enough in hand to ensure they will be competing at Senior level again in 2020.
Wexford: Lara O'Shea; Clodagh Jackman, Ciara Storey, Shauna Sinnott; Ciara O'Connor, Katie O'Connor, Emma Walsh; Linda Bolger (0-2), Amy Cardiff (0-2); Anais Curran (0-1), Joanne Dillon (2-0), Una Sinnott (capt.); Mags Byrne (0-2), Aoife Guiney, Chloe Foxe (2-6, 1-6 frees, 1-0 pen.). Subs. - Tara Doyle for Byrne (42), Sorcha Foley for Guiney (60+4), also Emma Kiely, Doireann Cullen, Megan Cullen, Sinéad Furlong, Katie Sludds, Katie Smyth, Katie Kenny, Leah Walsh, Aoife McCrea.
Meath: Maggie Randle; Aedín Slattery, Claire Coffey, Ellen Burke; Áine Cooke, Cheyanne O'Brien (0-1), Louise O'Donoghue (joint capt., 0-1); Kristina Troy (joint capt., 1-0), Laoise McDermott; Áine McNerney, Lisa Foley (1-0), Megan Thynne; Aoife Minogue (2-2), Ciara Foley, Jane Dolan (0-5, 3 frees, 1 '45). Subs. - Sinéad Hackett for C. Foley (37), Aoife Maguire for L. Foley (41), Fia O'Brien for Cooke (48), Siobhán Whitty for McNerney (56).
Referee: Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny).
New Ross Standard