Wexford back in the big time to contest final

AFTER years of heartache, Wexford have emerged from the wilderness to contest their first camogie league final in 12 years and are seeking their first win in 27 years.

They have gone 29 years without a championship title, but life is changing for the better. Today, this young squad join the big timers, confidently squaring up to the reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary in the National League Division 1 final at Nowlan Park (3.45pm).

Another major plus for the Wexford girls is the form of centre back Aine Codd who has seen the darker days, but as one of the main architects in their comeback, she says the euphoria in the county is infectious.

"We got things together early on this year and it has paid off so far. Beating a highly-rated Cork team in the semi-final has given us extra self-belief. But, we know that element of surprise is now gone and Tipperary will be as eager as us to win."

The Blue and Gold's forward line of Eimear McDonnell, Deirdre Hughes and captain Joanne Ryan are particularly devastating. Codd says as a defensive unit they will have to be at their best: "In fact all six will need watching but we did well against the Cork attack which is one of the best in the country. We have been through too much to be complacent, but this final will also give us much-needed confidence for the championship."

Manager Aidan Breen has guided their fortunes and has a good nucleus of players to work from despite being robbed of Lennie Holohan. Tipperary's Raymie Ryan has the majority of his all-conquering championship side in action and it is difficult to believe that this crop of talented players have not secured a league title in modern times their last and only triumph was in 1976.

Meanwhile, Laois and Kildare are a unique pairing in the Division 2 final (2pm). Both counties came through their sections unscathed. Laois, with Therese Keenan and Sarah Cuddy in top form, beat a fancied Wexford side in the semi-final and are looking for their first title.

Kildare, trying for their fourth, will be led by ace forward Clodagh Flanagan, captain Ciara Tallon and Noelle Earley who is daughter of former county footballer Dermot Earley.

TIPPERARY: J Delaney; J Kirwan, U O'Dwyer, M. Corcoran; S. Nealon, C. Gaynor, T. O'Halloran; A McDermott, P. Bulfin; L. Young, E. Hayden, C Grogan; E McDonnell, D Hughes, J Ryan (capt).

WEXFORD: M Darcy; A Moran, C O'Loughlin, K Atkinson; R M Breen, A Codd, D. Codd; C. Murphy, K. Kelly; M. O'Leary, M. Leacy (capt), O Hernon; E Quigley, M Hearne, L Codd.

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