FOOTBALL: TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final (Laois vs Wexford – Preview/Team News)
1.45pm – TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final – Laois v Wexford – Live on TG4 (Aimee Kelly of Laois and Roisin Murphy of Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile)
Compiled by Jackie Cahill
REDEMPTION day for Wexford – or Laois to inflict more misery on the Slaneysiders?
Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final at Croke Park will provide the answers – with both teams unchanged from their semi-final victories.
Wexford will feel they’ve probably suffered enough in recent times – and their desire and motivation to land the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup will be huge.
They left Croke Park shell-shocked last September, on the wrong end of a 0-6 to 4-19 defeat at the hands of rampant Westmeath.
They stuck together but losing the Lidl National League Division 3 Final against Roscommon in April hurt – and they suffered another Final loss to Kildare in the TG4 Leinster Championship.
But Wexford did get the better of Sunday’s opponents in the provincial semi-final, a thrilling game that went to extra-time before Wexford prevailed by 4-16 to 4-14.
If the two teams produce something similar on Sunday afternoon, we’re in for a treat at Croke Park but either side would take a scruffy game and performance if they were told it would guarantee silverware.
Junior champions in 2014, Wexford have never won the Intermediate title, although they did contest Finals in 2021, 2007 and 1999.
For Laois, remarkably, this is a first appearance in an All-Ireland Final since a famous Senior victory over Mayo in 2001.
They have won the Intermediate title before, too, back in 2000 when they defeated Cork in the Final.
Taking all of that into consideration, there’s history in the making for either side on Sunday.
The winners will take home the silverware but they’ll also join Dublin and Meath as Leinster’s representatives in the 2023 Senior Championship.
Indeed, it’s the third successive year where two Leinster teams will battle it out for the Intermediate title. Meath beat Westmeath in 2020, before Westmeath overcame Wexford last year.
Wexford, who beat Laois in the 2021 All-Ireland semi-final, will now hope their time has come but there are absolutely no guarantees in a tie that pits two excellent teams against each other.
Both, notably, have beaten Tyrone in Championship 2022. Tyrone would have been considered a leading title contender after dropping down from Senior last year but Laois beat them in a group game that featured one of the goals of the year from Erone Fitzpatrick, as her mazy run was capped by a spectacular finish.
At the quarter-final stage, Wexford ended Tyrone’s win with a victory that blew the Championship race wide open.
Not content with that, Wexford turned the tables on Roscommon, notching 6-11 against their opponents from the West, with Aisling Murphy scoring four goals during the course of a superb individual display.
On the other side of the draw, Laois were taken to extra-time by Clare in a fabulous game.
When the dust settled, Laois were on the right side of the 2-21 result, with the TG4 Championship’s leading scorer, Mo Nerney, contributing an incredible 1-14.
Both of Sunday’s finalists possess magnificent individual players but, as collectives, they’re incredibly tight and united units.
The respective management teams have infused a real sense of togetherness in each of their groups and Sunday’s winners will have earned it when the final hooter sounds.
An interesting side note is the battle between Nerney and Murphy for the ZuCar Golden Boot, which will be awarded to the leading scorer in the 2022 TG4 All-Ireland Championships.
Nerney is currently leading on 4-26 (38 points), with Murphy on 8-10 (34).
Kerry’s Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, who plays in the Senior Final, is next in line on 3-22 (31 points), closely followed by Eimear Smyth from Fermanagh on 4-17 (29 points).
Laois (v Wexford): E Barry; C Dunne, A Donoher, A Kelly (capt.); R Williams, E Healy, A Potts; A Healy, J Moore; E Galvin, L.M. Maher, E Fitzpatrick; M Nerney, E Lawlor, S.A. Fitzgerald.
Wexford (v Laois): M.R. Kelly; S Harding Kenny, A Halligan, S Murphy; O Kehoe, R Murphy (capt.), C Donnelly; K Kearney, C Banville; S Hamilton, C Murray, E O’Brien; B Breen, A Murphy, A Wilson.