Kelly's brace is just the tonic as Wexford retain Cup crown
Wexford Youths 3-2 Peamount United
Wexford Youths may have been slow starters this season as their league crown slipped away but a blistering start at the Aviva ensured they would at least retain their FAI Cup title at the expense of their fierce Peamount United rivals.
"We knew today wouldn't define us," said manager Tom Elmes. "That only puts pressure on you."
Instead, that burden seemed to pile upon Peamount from the moment they conceded a horrendously sloppy third-minute lead goal.
It had been assumed in 2019 that the Dubliners would repeat the double acquired by their country foes last year but, for Áine O'Gorman and Karen Duggan, the wait for success in the blue riband continues.
Twice, Peamount pegged back their doughty opponents but the favourites never seemed comfortable; in contrast, Wexford's sniping, counter-attacking game, spearheaded by the twinkle-toed Rianna Jarrett always seemed to hold the edge.
Peamount may have dominated the ball but Wexford dominated the game's crucial moments.
Another errant pre-match supposition would have had Jarrett cast as the star of the show were her side to prevail but, while she did cause havoc against Louise Corrigan and co, it was her team-mate Lauren Kelly who emerged as the comic book Cup heroine, her two-goal salvo notching her the player of the match award.
Her side had led 2-1 at half-time thanks to her brace of excellent strikes in the third and 33rd minutes, sandwiching a fine effort from Karen Duggan for the often fitful losers.
Peamount levelled thanks to Eleanor Ryan-Doyle's speculative strike in the 53rd minute but Wexford responded with a finely crafted winning goal from captain Kylie Murphy ten minutes later.
Wexford were clinical and precise when they needed to be.
It helped that they were offered a guiding hand so early in the piece.
Peamount were unable to impose any sense of their renowned attacking strength as they were undone by a series of calamitous defensive mis-haps which gifted their opponents a lead after just three minutes.
Murphy pounced on a loose ball in midfield and probed right to Kelly who extricated herself from Walsh's diffident tackle attempt.
Karen Duggan didn't even get the chance to tackle as Kelly's swishing shimmy glided her past the defender to advance on the penalty area; once there, she opened her body for a right-footed shot which hoodwinked goalkeeper Niamh Reid-Burke.
True, there was a low sun and the ball also passed through the legs of another hapless defender, Louise Corrigan, but up in the bleachers it seemed like a desperately poor concession all round.
O'Gorman came closest to announcing that there may be a goal threat to accompany her side's increasing dominance; yet a 24th-minute shot flashing wide and high was a limited enough expression of their efforts.
Their equaliser did eventually arrive in the 32nd minute; Corrigan, atoning for her earlier error, bustled Jarrett out of possession beneath the shadow of the main stand and drove down the right wing.
Ryan-Doyle and O'Gorman, again flitting in and out of her danger role, then combined well before the latter sent a delivery into that over-populated central area.
This time, Peamount won the scrap and the possession; up stepped Karen Duggan, not a renowned scorer of goals, to send a screamer beyond Ciamh Dollard.
Yet Peamount were almost as stunned by their equaliser as they had been the earlier concession for within a minute they trailed once more.
Jarrett's hold-up play initiated the move; allowing Ciara Rossiter to join in support before flinging in a cross which should have been met with a dismissive header from Walsh but wasn't. And there was Kelly again, flitting out an almost contemptuous waft of her right leg, guiding a sumptuous volley with the outside of her right foot beyond Reid-Burke.
Peamount finished the half strongly and started the second even better. Their 52nd-minute leveller was not a surprise and it involved another goalkeeping howler; Dollard only managing to parry Ryan-Doyle's speculative 30-yard effort sheepishly into the net.
For the first time all afternoon, it seemed that now the league champions might stride authoritatively for home but Wexford wouldn't be shrugged. In the 64th minute, Wexford took the lead for a third time; Edel Kennedy's fearsome midfield squabbling providing the base for the latest breakthrough.
Kelly turned provider this time; her sweeping left to right pass found Jarrett on the edge of the area and, as both Corrigan and Farrelly both fatally stepped up in their anxiety to thwart the Irish international, Murphy snuck into the vacated space and calmly slotted home.
Now it was Alamo time but you could argue Wexford's defensive robustness was far more composed than Peamount's offensive attempts.
They had their chances though; Walsh and Ryan-Doyle went the closest but Jarrett remained a menace and indeed came closer than anyone else to adding to the day's tally, pounding a post after giving Corrigan yet another chapter in what may be a series of nightmares this week.
Their side will share them collectively; for Wexford, though, this the sweetest of dreams after retaining their FAI Cup crown.
Peamount United - N Reid-Burke; L O'Callaghan (N Barnes 68), D Beirne, L Corrigan, C Walsh; K Duggan, N Farrelly, L McCartan (N Chemaou 55), E Ryan-Doyle; A O'Gorman (capt), M Smyth-Lynch.
Wexford Youths - C Dollard; L Craven, O Conlon, L Dwyer, N Sinnott; E Kennedy, A Frawley (B Kingsley 86), K Murphy (capt), R Jarrett; L Kelly, C Rossiter (M Davidson 61).
Ref - S Dyas