Tables turned as Model now in the firing line

Leaving Nowlan Park on Saturday, the chat quickly turned to the All-Ireland final on September 16.

And the belief was that if any team could stop Wexford in their quest for three-in-a-row, then it would Cork.

Wexford halted the Rebels achieving a similar feat in 2007. Now the tables are turned as the Slaneysiders will now be in the firing line.

The Leinster outfit are unquestionably the best team in the country.

Over the past couple of years the physical presence of Ursula Jacob, Kate Kelly, Una and Mary Leacy, Claire O’Connor and Catherine O’Loughlin has brought camogie to new heights.

Wexford entered Saturday’s semi-final on the back of a five-week layoff (as did Galway) and the lack of championship game-time may be an issue for JJ Doyle and his management team.

They are continuing with their club competitions but that won’t match the pace and intensity of top flight action.

Now they also have injury worries. Una Leacy is their biggest concern after being helped off at the end of the first quarter with what appeared to be a serious-looking knee injury.

The Oulart-the-Ballagh star suffered a lay-off earlier in the year and it would be devastating if one of the greatest forwards in the modern era was to miss out on the decider.

Twelve months ago Wexford full-back Catherine O’Loughlin suffered a serious ankle injury at the same stage but was fit for the final.

It is hard to know how good Wexford are this year.

They racked up 3-14 against an Offaly side that was competing in their first senior semi-final (John Troy’s charges will surely learn from the experience of being pitted against the champions), and Ursula Jacob, Katrina Parrock and Leacy are the big dangers in attack.

Their bench too impressed.

Then they played a trump card with only 10 minutes to go.

Fiona Rochford, one of the stars of the 2011 All Ireland intermediate winning side, rifled over three unanswered points within a seven-minute spell while Kate Kelly continues to show excellent form at midfield.

Una’s sister Mary, rock-solid in the number six jersey and corner back Claire O’Connor, came into Saturday’s game after injury lay-offs.

Both are big players in a formidable Wexford back line and this is an area Cork will have to break down.

Once the Cork defenders and midfield got on top (a marvellous clean sheet from keeper Aoife Murray) they closed Galway down.

Briege Corkery and Katrina Mackey are the most potent of the forwards and it will be interesting to see who the Leesiders will select at centre-forward for All-Ireland final Sunday.

Paudie Murray and his management will have to curtail the influence of the older of the Leacy sisters if Cork hope to prevail. Anna Geary and Lynda Dorgan are the most recent to fill the posting.

Cork wouldn’t fear Wexford having beaten them in the league final this year and will relish the chance of revenge for that final defeat five years ago.

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