It was heartache again for the New York Ladies in the All-Ireland Junior football final on Sunday as they succumbed to Wexford by two points in a game they dominated for long periods.
A slow start didn’t help the side, but they rebounded from a 1-5 to 0-2 hole and turned on the form that they knew they were capable of in a dominant second half performance.
A harsh sin bin for Caitlin Hynes after six minutes didn’t help New York, but it was the outstanding second half performance of Wexford goalkeeper Mary Rose Kelly that was one of the key factors in Wexford’s victory. She made three top class stops, denying Linda McKeon and Courtney Traynor on goal bound efforts in the 38th minute while also pushing over of a pile driver from Alisha Jordan for a point with 10 minutes left.
New York controlled the final 30 starting when Wexford had a player sin binned for persistent fouling. The visitors didn’t capitalize as much as they should have for all the fouls as they missed four frees from the 20 to 25 yard range. All would have been critical in moving them ahead, but alas it was not to be.
The game opened with Emma Clarke getting fouled in the right corner. She was tackled in what was an eerily similar fashion to what was adjudged to be a yellow card offense minutes later at the other end by Hynes.
Kate Redmond had a free to open the scoring with five minutes gone and then a minute later Hynes was sin binned with the resulting penalty driven wide by Fiona Rochford.
With the player advantage Wexford added three of the next four scores with Molly O’Rourke grabbing the New York effort when she linked with Clarke from a short free.
The visitors already had two missed opportunities as frees were sent wide after McKeon and Kelly Donoghue had been fouled. O’Rourke had the second New York point again from a free when she was fouled. It was 0-4 to 0-2 with 11 minutes left in the half.
Donoghue, McKeon and Jordan were doing tremendous work in the middle as they found the forwards with passes. Clarke was coming out to receive and then move on the ball to O’Rourke and Traynor as the side started to settle.
New York was also helped by four Wexford wides in the same period. They were knocked back however as the half came to a close as the Slaneysiders finally found the range.
A Kate Redmond point with seven minutes left started it, with Marie Byrne following with a storming run up the center before driving the ball to the right top corner of the net a minute later.
Turnovers hurt the Big Apple as it was the predecessor for both scores. They did react in a positive fashion, however, and they had points from Traynor and a free from O’Rourke in reply. They also had a Traynor score pulled back for a free in the center.
O’Brien and O’Rourke swapped scores as the scoring frenzy continued, but a clear cut goal chance went a begging for New York when Ciara Scally soloed forward and linked with O’Rourke, but on the final touch she couldn’t get possession as she bore down on goal and the ball went out for a 50.
Both sides dropped balls into the respective squares as the half expired, but Misses Kilkenny and Kelly dealt with them easily to leave Wexford ahead 1-6 to 0-5 clear at the short whistle.
In a repeat of the Scally move, McKeon cantered forward to open the second half, but again at an inappropriate moment she just missed getting on to the ball when a score looked possible. Jordan did fire over a long range point and New York continued to attack in waves.
Wexford suffered an early second half blow when full-back Marica Cullen was sin-binned for persistent fouling, but New York couldn’t capitalize on the numerical advantage enough as two 22-yard frees went a begging with Kelly stopping the second under the post and Clarke getting crowded out on the rebound.
New York continued to drive forward, and with eight minutes gone they had a game changing experience. McKeon sold a perfect dummy to a defender and then sent a cracking shot headed to the right side. Kelly made an outstanding save and then got to her feet to stop Traynor’s low drive on the rebound. With just a goal between the sides it was a critical moment.
Wexford extended the lead to six again with a further trifecta of points as the final quarter arrived. But they came against the run of play. They did show the danger that existed when the forward line got half chances.
New York had three of the next four points with O’Rourke, getting the book end scores. Jordan had the middle effort, but it was a shot that was headed for the roof of the net. Again Kelly showed why her manager Billy Donnelly considers her to be the best keeper in Ireland as she pushed the drive over the bar.
Redmond moved the lead to five again with a pointed free, and time was now of the essence for New York. They pressed forward, but a four player move resulted in O’Rourke’s low drive getting stopped by the Wexford Keeper.
Another attack had O’Rourke on the ground with the ball slipping out from her grasp. Donoghue nipped in and scooped up before passing to Traynor who blasted to the net.
Winning the resulting kick out, the ball was again worked to the center of the field with Lara Lee McCullough running forward and driving a bullet over the lathe with a goal certainly on her mind.
It was now down to the minimum with just 90 seconds on the clock. Wexford controlled the kick out and worked the ball methodically forward with Chantelle Martin firing over from distance to give the side a cushion.
Time expired before the Big Apple could force another attack, and the dream was over for the ladies from New York.
It was another tough loss for New York following the 2011 loss to Wicklow in a replay. At least six Wexford scores came from turnovers and the missed frees were pivotal.
Akin to the New York men, challenge games would help to get those kinks out, but where to find them? It was, however, a final that New York most definitely had the winning of.
They took the best that Wexford could drive at them and kept coming out looking for more. Twice they were down by six, three times down by five but they never gave up.
Nora Kilkenny was powerless on the goal but she was confident throughout and her kick outs and handling impressed. Aoife O’Rourke, Ciara Scally and Stephanie Tierney excelled at the back, with both O’Rourke and Scally moving forward constantly in the second half.
Caitlin Hynes settled in after the harsh card and was to be commended for how she came into the game in its aftermath. Linda McKeon led like a captain should. She battled throughout and set up a number of attacks with quality passes as well as battling when on the defensive end.
Donoghue had a huge game, particularly in the first half when she played a perfect role as a forward also helping on the defensive end. She moved the ball well moving out of the back.
Alisha Jordan had two brilliant scores. Everyone knows she was also going for goal on her second one. A terrific shot.
Emma Clarke came out from goal continually, but she won a lot of possession and found her inside line time and again. Similar to James Donoghue recently, when she wasn’t scoring she made up for it with her passing.
Courtney Traynor had 1-2 from play, exactly what you want from a corner forward. She also covered a lot of ground and reacted with a snipers touch for the goal.
Molly O’Rourke scored five points despite being fouled continuously. She kept showing for the ball and winning it, a terrific display from the full forward.
New York: 1 Nora Kilkenny (Cavan), 2 Aoife O’Rourke (Cavan), 3 Jen Moran (Kerry/Donegal), 4 Catriona Raftery (Cavan), 5 Caitlin Hynes (Cavan), 6 Stephanie Tierney (Na Fianna), 7Ciara Scally (Cavan), 8 Linda McKeon (Kerry/Donegal), 9 Sara Lee McCullough 0-1 (Fermanagh), 10 Kelly Donoghue, 11 Brianna Tierney (Na Fianna), 12 Alisha Jordon 0-2 (Cavan), 13 Emma Clarke (Cavan), 14 Mary Molly O’Rourke 0-5, 3f (Na Fianna), 15 Courtney Traynor 1-2 (Kerry/Donegal). Subs: Imelda Mullarkey for Rafferty 16 mins, Margaret Brady for Tierney 24 mins.
Player of the game: Mary Rose Kelly (Wexford). She single handedly stopped New York from taking the cup back across the Atlantic.