Saturday morning saw Wexford Hockey Club host an U8 and U10 blitz. The day began with 34 of the Club’s U8 players combine to make up 6 teams under the mentorship of Anne Mernagh, Amy Pettitt, Paul McCarthy, Tara Jarvis, Dara Gahan and Mags Carthy. The players played some excellent hockey against Gorey and Enniscorthy Hockey Club and the mentors could really see the benefit of the time on the pitch the girls had last Sunday. The Club would like to thank Muireann McCarthy, Therese Finan and Liam Finan for umpiring some of the games.
Next up was the U10 Blitz, Wexford hosted 13 teams from Enniscorthy, Gorey and Wexford. Approximately 90 girls lined out for their clubs, 38 from Wexford. Glorious sunshine provided the perfect day for the blitz. Wexford had 5 teams. Great skill was on display and there was a feast of goals as well as some superb defensive tackles on show. The Wexford Team Mentors were Leonie, Susie and Dara while the umpires were Kai, Miriam and Lucas, a promising 12 year old expert referee from Gorey— who was superb!
Sunday morning saw Wexford 1st Years put in a sterling performance in their Leinster League semi-final against Pembroke Wanderers but unfortunately lost out in a nail-biting finish as the game went all the way to sudden death.
Wexford went into the game unbeaten, finishing second in their group matches. The crossover matches pitched them against 1st place in a division higher. Pembroke were also unbeaten, winning some of their games by big margins. However, Wexford’s defence of Sinéad Cullen in goal, Kate Stafford and Grace O’Connor were rock solid and stood up to all the pressure Pembroke applied. Chloe Cutin, Anna Benson, Ciara Enright and Ina Mullen worked tirelessly at midfield, making great runs and clever passes.
Upfront Ann Molloy and Kaylee Walsh were very unlucky not to get on the scoresheet as they weaved through the Pembroke defence, ably assisted by Sarah Conroy, Lara Pettitt and Ellen Devereux. In truth, neither team deserved to lose this game but a result was required on the day so the dramatic shuttles ensued. Not only did the drama match that of the Irish ladies team in their Olympic qualifier against Canada during the summer, but the skill level of these young players was also right up there with them too.
A special mention to Sinéad Cullen in goal who was outstanding pulling off save after save throughout. This talented group of girls certainly promise the future is very bright for Wexford Hockey.
The last game of the weekend saw the U16 Wexford 1st Team take on Abbeyleix in the West Leinster Cup Semi-Final in Kilkenny.
It was a very even match where Abbeyleix settled first and got on the score sheet early in the first half with a well taken shot on goal. Going a goal down woke up the Wexford side who began to put more pressure on Abbeyleix and began to create chances for themselves with the midfield working hard, releasing early ball to the forward line.
Although Wexford penetrated the Abbeyleix circle they were unable to get the ball across the goal line and finished the first half a goal down.
Wexford started the second half as they finished the first, working hard throughout the field and chasing every ball. Nevertheless, the Wexford defence along with goal-keeper Lizzie Walsh did well to clear their lines a couple of times early in the half. This seemed to galvanise the team and in particular, Maeve Buckley who worked tirelessly in midfield. Wexford managed to break through the Abbeyleix defence a couple of times and midway through the second half Heather O’Leary linked up with Anna Finan whose strike went the wrong side of the post.
Wexford continued to press hard for the equaliser. With ten minutes remaining, they finally hit the backboard after winning a penalty corner which Maeve Buckley converted with a fantastic strike. From there Wexford continued to take control of the game and a lovely early ball from midfield found Laura Neville in the circle and she slotted it home from close range for Wexford to take the lead.
With two minutes remaining, Laura Neville was on the score sheet again when the Abbeyleix defence was split once more and a third goal was scored.
It was a fantastic team performance and all the girls worked tirelessly to get the result they wanted.
Wexford U16 1st Panel: Lizzie Walsh, Helen Barry, Anna Doyle, Sophie Dawson, Gia Coyne, Orlaith Flanagan, Shauna Moloney, Aoife Cullen, Maeve Buckley, Aisling Evans, Laura Neville, Heather O’Leary, Anna Finan