Tipperary edge close contest with Wexford

Intermediates

Tipperary edge close contest with Wexford

In a game that was originally an away fixture for Tipperary ladies, weather forced Wexford into conceding home advantage.

St Patricks GAA club and Anner Park in Cloneen kindly agreed to host this Division 3 clash at short notice.

In recent years very little has separated these two sides when they have met in competition. Last year a narrow one point win for Tipperary on home ground was the Tipp ladies first success in the 2015 league.

On Sunday Wexford were in confident form, going for their third successive win having already defeated Down and Roscommon in previous rounds. Tipperary lost out narrowly by one point to Waterford in round one but had since comprehensively defeated Fermanagh a week previously.

With conditions underfoot very soft following overnight rain this game would prove to be a test of stamina and determination for both teams. Tipperary won the toss and began by playing with a fresh wind in their backs. The first ten minutes saw both teams with good attacking chances but accuracy was not a strong point on either side with Tipperary missing three scoring opportunities and Wexford guilty of four in the same period.

If anything Wexford were having the better of the exchanges but had nothing to show for it. Tipperary were first to register on the scoreboard when Catriona Walsh received a long ball in behind the Wexford defence. Her shot was initially saved by the Wexford keeper Natasha Walsh but following up were Catriona Walsh and Edel Hanly who between them put the ball into the Wexford net. Wexford immediately followed up with a pointed free before Tipp’s Edel Hanly also pointed a free. Wexford’s Aleisha Cullen had a nice point from play to leave just the goal between the sides. Tipp replied with another point from Hanly having received a nice ball from centre forward Mairead Morrissey. Tipp goalie Lauren Fitzpatrick made a top class catch and save under her crossbar on 28 minutes which was to prove crucial as the game went on.

Gillian O’Brien was introduced by Tipp for goal scorer Catriona Walshe on twenty eight minutes and her first touch provided a scoring opportunity for Edel Hanly who converted. Wexford were proving dogged opposition and an excellent score from corner forward Marcella Cullen ensured just a goal separated the teams, Tipp 1-3 Wexford 0-3. Tipperary finished the half with another point from Gillian O’Brien to leave four between the sides at half time.

Playing against the breeze in the second half Tipperary struggled at times to clear their lines and a number of poor deliveries, missed passes and handling errors could have been severely punished by the Slaneysiders who were still well in contention.

Hanley pointed a Tipp free but Wexford then replied with two of their own and with 20 minutes remaining the solitary Tipp goal was all that separated the sides.

Sinead Delahunty was introduced for Louise Cadell for Tipp on 11 minutes and shortly afterwards Tipp were dealt a blow when half back Anne O’Dwyer was sin binned for ten minutes.

Another Hanly point put four between the sides and Wexford will regret their three wides that followed but in fairness the Tipp defence were applying serious pressure on the Wexford attackers every time they got near goal.

Their full forward Catriona Murray scored their sixth point of the day on 15 minutes to again put just the goal between the sides, 1-6 to 0-6.

The Wexford full-back Maria Byrne had now been sin binned which meant both sides were playing with 14 players midway through the second half and Wexford were looking for that elusive goal.

Tipp almost immediately lost full back Samantha Lambert to the sin bin which might have proven critical but somehow the defence held out. The game was subject to a number of stoppages to injured players with neither team holding back in this contest. With 23 minutes on the clock Tipp’s Lorraine O’Shea made a strong run through the middle and her lay-off to Claire Carroll was duly pointed by the Tipp No. 7.

Tipp now led by four and for the remainder of the game neither side managed another score. Conditions did not lend themselves to free flowing football but for Tipp the victory will be all that matters as they are now well placed for the remaining games in the league.

They have not conceded a goal in their three opening games to date which is a good reflection on their defensive play so far.

With a break next week end Tipperary will look to recharge the batteries before taking on Offaly at home on February 27.

Tipperary: Lauren Fitzpatrick, Brid Condon, Samantha Lambert, Louise Cadell, Anne O’Dwyer, Jennifer Grant, Claire Carroll (01), Aoife Ryan, Sheelagh Carew, Niamh Lonergan, Mairead Morrissey, Eimear Myles, Catriona Walsh (1:0), Lorraine O’Shea, Edel Hanley (05) (2F).

Subs Used: Gillian O’Brien (0-1) on for Catriona Walsh 28 mins, Sinead Delahunty on for Louise Cadell 41 mins.