Glory for talented Wexford
Soccer, FAI Women's U-19 Inter-League Cup Final: Wexford League 3 M.G.L. 1
Captain Fiona Ryan netted twice in the second-half as the Wexford Schoolgirls' League claimed the FAI Women's inter-league cup final in style against the Metropolitans Girls' League in Arklow on Sunday.
The girls from Dublin edged the first-half but there was no such showing after the break as Wexford completely took over.
Led by the unplayable Ryan, they bossed the game and wouldn't have been flattered by a larger winning margin.
The Metro girls looked to play nice football in the first-half and maybe Wexford were a little guilty of standing off and allowing them to control the game.
That could be put down to 'final nerves', or maybe it was the caution that comes with playing the 'big name', but it couldn't continue if Wexford wanted to taste success.
And it didn't. Manager Michael Bennett made a little switch just before the break, Metro made a change at the interval, and both had contrasting effects.
Wexford were a different team, winning all the individual battles, especially in the vital middle third of the field.
But it wasn't just the midfield, as Wexford took control in every department. Suddenly the defence looked unfazed by the considerable dual threat of Erika Browne and Katie Malone. In attack, every ball towards the box looked like it might bring the next goal.
However, it was Ryan and her left boot that had the biggest impact of all. It was that perfect mixture of power and precision, and it didn't matter the area on the field, as Caragh Clarke's goal was in constant danger, so much so that each effort brought more gasps from the crowd than the previous one.
Things didn't start as well as they finished. For the first 20 minutes Wexford were living off the pace on the counter of Katie Murphy as Metro calmly knocked the ball around the field with great composure, probing at the Slaneysiders' defence.
Malone cracked a shot wide in the sixth minute and Browne missed the target with a crisp volley a short time later.
But with their confidence they got a little too adventurous, and when Murphy collected a long ball and spun her marker in midfield, Metro had no defensive cover.
The Wexford attacker wasn't going to be caught, it was going to come down to her composure with the finish, and Murphy couldn't have struck it any better, from just outside the area across Clarke to the bottom corner to open the scoring in the 21st minute.
That advantage lasted six minutes. It was the first time since the goal that Metro really threatened but it was a fantastic move on the right.
Rachel Manley slipped Malone into the clear and her finish was equally as impressive as Murphy's.
Murphy almost got away again in the 31st minute, from Ryan's through-ball, but she scuffed her shot under intense pressure.
After that Metro bossed the remainder of the half but were unable to take the lead, despite having a handful of half-chances.
The second-half was a different affair altogether and Ryan's 47th-minute goal certainly helped. It was all her own work too, as she claimed possession from a Clarke kick-out, won a tackle when the ball broke, and sent a succulent left-foot finish low to the corner from 22 yards out.
Wexford were buzzing after the goal and Ryan was at the centre of it all. She had the Metro defence scrambling after a superb right-wing corner and forced Clarke into a classy fingertip save from her drilled effort from the centre-circle.
In the 58th minute Jasmine Martin got to the byline on the right and swung in a cross that the unmarked Niamh Millar just couldn't control cleanly.
Martin almost got in behind from Murphy's pass a short time later but Clarke got there first to knock it behind for a corner.
From the resulting set-piece Ryan swung it into the six-yard box, and it evaded everyone and nestled in the back of the Metro net.
Wexford were purring and almost went 4-1 up when Murphy's header from Britney Conroy's corner was tipped over by Clarke.
Lauren Fox stung the hands of Gráinne McCabe with a fierce drive from distance, but the Wexford 'keeper impressivly took the shot cleanly.
Ryan's 74th-minute 45-yard free-kick was just tipped behind by Clarke, and she went even closer eight minutes later when she rattled the crossbar from 40 yards out.
While Wexford couldn't find the fourth their play deserved, they never looked like letting the Metro Girls back into the game and, after almost six minutes of added-time, they could celebrate a memorable and deserved success, a national title.
Wexford: Gráinne McCabe; Chloe Mythen, Gemma Corrigan, Chloe Moynihan; Niamh Browne; Jasmine Martin, Alannah Anglim, Shauna Redmond, Fiona Ryan (capt.); Britney Conroy, Katie Murphy. Subs. - Niamh Millar for Redmond (42), Sarah Walsh for Martin, inj. (73), Linda Bradley for Conroy (84), Amy Lawlor for Murphy (90+1), Megan Butler for Ryan, inj. (90+5).
Metro Girls: Caragh Clarke; Abby O'Hara, Molly Doyle, Shannon Gibson; Caitlyn Kavanagh; Ali O'Keeffe, Rachel Manley, Lauren Fox, Georgia Monks; Erika Browne, Katie Malone (capt.). Subs. - Marta McGlade for Kavanagh (46), Sophie Cronin for O'Keeffe (57), Chloe Lawless for Browne (77), Rachael Cullen for Manley (85).
Referee: Sarah Dyas (Louth).
New Ross Standard