WEXFORD survived a strong Galway test to claim a third successive Division One title at Semple Stadium yesterday.
The Model County started in blistering fashion; Kate Kelly pointing a free after 45 seconds before Una Leacy drove a stunning shot to the roof of the Galway net four minutes later.
Brenda Hanney opened the scoring for the Connacht side but Mary Leacy responded with a point and two further efforts from Michelle O’Leary and Ursula Jacob stretched the advantage to six.
Galway began to get a foothold around the centre though as Orla Kilkenny, Emer Haverty, Veronica Curtin and Aisling Connolly began to haul their side back into the tie.
Connolly’s accuracy kept Galway in touch while Susan Earner reacted smartly to deny Lenny Holohan as Wexford led 1-5 to 0-6 at the break.
Galway continued their assault on the favourites in the third quarter, the Kilkenny sisters, Orla and outstanding half-back Niamh bringing the sides level by the 36th minute.
Mary Leacy lofted over a mammoth free for Wexford but Connolly responded and Galway kept driving forward. The magnificent Catherine O’Loughlin and Mags D’Arcy denied Noreen Coen and Tara Rutledge goals, while Coen hit the upright before Connolly failed to convert a difficult free. Then Wexford were awarded a dubious 49th minute penalty by referee Mike O’Kelly. Leacy made no mistake with a powerful drive to edge Wexford back in front. The champions went for the jugular, adding 1-4 in the final 14 minutes as Galway only managed a point. Leacy’s third goal, in the fourth minute of injury time, secured another title for the All-Ireland champions.
WEXFORD: M D’Arcy; C O’Connor, C O’Loughlin, K Atkinson; N Lambert, M Leacy 0-1(f), A O’Connor; D Codd, K Kelly 0-3(fs); J Dwyer, U Jacob 0-2, M O’Leary 0-1; L Holohan, U Leacy 3-1 (1-0 pen), K Parrock 0-1.
Subs: B Gordon for O’Leary (39), E Quigley 0-1 for Dwyer (39), F Kavanagh for A O’Connor inj (52).
GALWAY: S Earner; R Glynn, S Dervan, S Cahalane; N Kilkenny 0-1, AM Hayes, S Keane; E Haverty, N Kilkenny 0-2; A Connolly 0-5(4fs, 1 45), N McGrath, B Hanney 0-1; V Curtin 0-1, N Coen, T Rutledge.
Subs: M Conroy for Rutledge (47), E Kilkenny for McGrath (47), S Tannian for Cahalane (52), L Ryan for N Kilkenny (60).
Referee: M O’Kelly (Cork).
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