Sport Hurling

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Sister Act 1: Aoife lifts silver in a week to remember

Wexford 2-12 Tipperary 0-11 Camogie NL Division 1 final

Wexford's Michelle O'Leary in action against Michelle Shortt of
Tipperary during their Camogie National League Division 1 final on
Wexford's Michelle O'Leary in action against Michelle Shortt of Tipperary during their Camogie National League Division 1 final on Saturday
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Aoife O'Connor can relax now. She got the invitation list just right, made sure the sisters were decked out and in the end she got the piece of silver she wanted. And all for the second time in little over a week.

The Wexford captain can now show off the AIB Cup in the Maldives all she likes as she embarks on her honeymoon with former inter-county star Declan Ruth today as the first captain of Wexford to have lifted the National League trophy in 32 years.

After the wedding, this was the second big family affair in eight days for the O'Connors, with Claire joining Aoife on the winners' podium for the seniors, while Niamh, Ciara and Eimear had been up the steps earlier in the afternoon to collect the Division 2 cup for the intermediates.

"I can't wait to go," admitted the delighted skipper. "In fairness to Declan, he put it off for a week and I kind of had to settle the head all week, but now I can let go and celebrate the other good thing that happened this week. It's probably two of the biggest events in my life crammed into one week so it's been fantastic."

O'Connor can thank her star full-forward Una Leacy for the success, for while Wexford dominated Tipperary on the day, it was Leacy's magnificent goals that did the real damage.

And those in attendance at Parnell Park know that they will do well to see better goals all summer across any code, especially the second in which Leacy showed brilliant control and poise before powering the ball home.

Both goals came late in the first half with Wexford on top around the pitch, but it wasn't reflected on the scoreboard as they only led 0-5 to 0-4.


Indeed, Leacy looked to have botched the first chance, having dropped the ball and over-run it. However, she then deftly picked the ball up and hammered an unstoppable shot past Rosie Kennelly from 21 metres.

Kate Kelly added one of her eight points from a free and deep into injury-time Ursula Jacob floated a hopeful ball across the edge of the parallelogram.

It flew over Leacy's head and as she turned she managed to brilliantly control it on her hurl, steadied herself, flicked the ball into her hand and then launched another pile driver goalward to again beat Kennelly.

The 2-6 to 0-5 half-time score would prove the difference as Tipp fought back with venom, but they couldn't break down the winners' defence, led by half-back O'Connor.

For the Munster women, this game was part of their redevelopment plan for the forthcoming championship. Three star players were only coaxed back into action three weeks ago, with Eimear McDonnell, former All Star Una O'Dwyer and Suzanne Kelly all looking to re-adjust to the pace of competitive action once again.

But for O'Connor and Wexford, it was a little bit of history.

"We've probably been knocking on the door for around 10 or 12 years with various teams coming through, but it's the first time we've actually managed to get across the line, so that's fantastic," O'Connor said.

"These girls, who've been playing together for 12, 15 years, have been fantastic players, didn't have a league title, so it's really great."

Scorers -- Wexford: U Leacy 2-2, K Kelly 0-8 (6f, 1 '45'), M O'Leary, U Jacob 0-1 each. Tipperary: C Grogan 0-6 (5f, 1 '45'), E McDonnell, E Hayden, J Ryan, G Kinnane, C Hennessy 0-1 each.

Tipperary -- R Kennelly; S Kelly, M Luttrell, P Bulfin (J Ryan 30); M Shortt, T O'Halloran, M Ryan; J McGrath, J Horan; U O'Dwyer, C Grogan, C Hennessy; E McDonnell, E Hayden (J O'Halloran 51), G Kinnane (C Devane 58).

Wexford -- M D'Arcy; B Holohan, D Codd, C O'Connor; A Codd, M Leacy, A O'Connor; C Murphy, K Kelly; M O'Leary, R Breen, J Dwyer; U Jacob (L Holohan 60), U Leacy, M Hearne.

Ref -- F McDonald (Armagh).

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