Cork marked their return to the big time with a deserved victory to scupper Wexford’s four-in-a-row Camogie League Division 1 title bid at Semple Stadium.
It was a 14th title for the Rebels and their first since beating the same opposition by a point in the 2007 final.
They had to do it the hard way too, overcoming a nervous first half when they were a clear second best and going in at the break 0-6 to 0-3 in arrears.
But manager Paudie Murray and his backroom staff made a key change just before half-time that saw Orla Cotter moving to midfield and going on to give a player of the match performance.
Cork were transformed after the resumption, upping the intensity of their play no end. Katrina Mackey’s 39th minute goal helped them establish a four-point buffer which was enough to withstand the expected late Wexford rally.
Cotter and Gemma O’Connor gave dominant displays around the middle in the second half, while the Cork defence was outstanding. Goalkeeper Aoife Murray and full-back Rena Buckley were unyielding, while Briege Corkery completely stamped out the considerable threat of Kate Kelly.
Wexford were over-reliant on Ursula Jacob for scores from placed balls. She provided five of their six first-half points and added another late in the second half. In contrast, all bar three of Cork’s points came from play.
Cork got off the mark first with a ninth minute pointed free from the 2007 match-winner Jenny O’Leary but Wexford gradually exerted control. Jacob equalised from a free before blasting over from a 13th minute penalty.
O’Leary restored parity but Wexford were on top thanks to Catherine O’Loughlin and Mary Leacy in the spine of their defence and Lisa Bolger at midfield.
Cork’s brilliant defensive unit began to creak and Jacob was unerring in punishing the indiscretions. Parrock also found the mark to give JJ Doyle’s crew that three-point advantage, although Cotter sent over an eye-catching point from 55 metres for the Leesiders.
At that juncture, it looked like Wexford might pull away but they were rocked by Cork’s greater physicality and were unable to cope with it.
Doyle responded by making a number of substitutions but they made little difference.
The lively Mackey and Anna Geary had points on the board within five minutes of the restart and though Kelly did flight over a remarkable point from 50 metres out and tight to the right sideline, Mackey’s hand-passed goal after showing a clean pair of heels to the Wexford rearguard gave the Leesiders the lead.
Emboldened, they added points from Cotter, O’Leary (free) and team captain Julia White, with the latter coming after a brilliant block had stopped Parrock’s goal-bound shot.
Wexford threw everything forward in the final ten minutes with Úna Leacy and Jacob halving the deficit. They never threatened the major score needed however, and the glory was Cork’s.
Scores for Cork: K Mackey 1-1, J O’Leary 0-3fs, O Cotter 0-2, A Geary, J White 0-1 each.
Scorers for Wexford: U Jacob 0-6 (5fs, 1 pen), K Kelly, K Parrock, U Leacy 0-1 each CORK: A Murray; J Duffy, R Buckley, J O’Callaghan; B Corkery, E O’Sullivan, P Mackey; L Dorgan, G O’Connor; O Cotter, A Geary, K Mackey; J White, R Curtin, J O’Leary.
Subs: J Casey for Dorgan (30+1); K Buckley for Curtin (51) WEXFORD: M D’Arcy; N Lambert, C O’Loughlin, K Atkinson; S Redmond, M Leacy, D Codd; J Dwyer, L Bolger; K Kelly, B Gordon, F Rochford; K Parrock, U Jacob, E Quigley.
Subs: M O’Leary for Rochford (40), U Leacy for Quigley (40), Claire O’Connor for Redmond (42), L HOlohan for Gordon (50), F Kavanagh for Dwyer (57).
Referee: A Lagrue (Kildare).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved