Úna Leacy pounced for a goal on the stroke of time to snatch a 1-9 to 0-9 victory for Wexford over All-Ireland champions Cork in their Liberty Insurance Senior Championship Group 1 tie at Innovate Wexford Park, writes Daragh Ó Conchúir .
Up to that definitive score, Kate Kelly had displayed her enduring sharpness after almost 20 years of senior inter-county action with seven points.
Orla Cotter (0-4) opened the scoring for Paudie Murray’s crew but with Kelly so accurate, it was nip and tuck throughout, with the hosts generally keeping their noses in front.
The Rebels were dealt a severe blow when captain Ashling Thompson received her marching orders in the 55th minute for a second yellow card offence, with her side trailing by a point.
Amy O’Connor equalised from a free subsequently but just when it looked like the spoils would be shared, Leacy exhibited the eye for goal that has been the hallmark of her game throughout the career and clearly remains undiminished despite a number of serious knee injuries.
The result brought the Model County women level with Cork at the top of the table and they were joined by Offaly when Adrian Clancy’s outfit overcame Limerick in a crunch tie at Kilmallock.
A brilliant defensive effort was central to the 1-16 to 1-10 success, as the Midlanders managed to neutralise the threat of scoring machine Niamh Mulcahy to a significant degree. Mulcahy had scored 2-37 in three games prior to this and in that context, Offaly would have been pleased to hold the lethal attacker to five points.
At the other end of the field, Michaela Morkan fired eight points - while player of the match Tina Hannon struck for a crucial goal and added three points to give Offaly a merited success.
With the top three progressing, it is still all to play for in Group 1 and Limerick can insert themselves to permutations once more if they overcome Cork in the last round of group games next weekend.
Meanwhile, Waterford secured their first ever senior championship victory with two late points to make it 1-8 to 0-10 against Clare at Walsh Park.
A goal by Trish Jackman from a penalty gave the hosts a 1-5 to 0-3 interval lead but Clare renewed their efforts after the resumption and three points from Róisín McMahon edged them into the lead.
Last year’s intermediate champions dug deep though, with the prodigious Beth Carton equalising before Jackman created history by converting a late 45.
There is still much to decide in Group 2 as well entering the last week, as the apparently ageless Louise O’Hara inspired Dublin to snatch a 0-14 to 2-8 draw with Tipperary at The Ragg, having trailed by five points with two minutes remaining.
Sarah O’Donovan gave Shane O’Brien’s side the ideal start with a goal but Nicole Walsh was in brilliant form for Tipperary and her seven points gave them the upper hand.
There were 58 minutes elapsed when the 37-year-old O’Hara goaled from a free to add to her earlier two points. Ali Twomey put just a point between them with her fourth of the day before Síle Nic Coitir popped up to give the Dubs their first point of the campaign.
They will need to record a 26-point victory over Derry next weekend to leapfrog Tipp for the last quarter-final spot.
The Oak Leafers had a day to forget when suffering a 2-14 to 0-1 defeat at the hands of a slightly experimental Galway unit at St Brendan’s Park, Loughrea.
Niamh Kilkenny and Rebecca Hennelly were among those to sit the game out but Finola Keeley made the most of her first opportunity since last year’s All-Ireland final by scoring a goal and two points, while Maria Mooney providing Derry’s sole score.
Keeley profited from good work by Orlaith McGrath and Ailish O’Reilly to goal after 15 minutes but to credit the under pressure Derry rearguard, they held out until the second minute of injury time to concede the second major, Noreen Coen finishing after taking a pass from McGrath.
Galway are assured of a place in the last six and will play Kilkenny next week.
With score difference in the Noresiders’ favour, the westerners will need to win to claim a semi-final berth.