FOOTBALL: Wexford 6-11 Roscommon 1-9 (TG4 All-Ireland IFC Semi-Final)
By IAN COONEY (Catriona Murray of Wexford in action against Rachel Fitzmaurice of Roscommon. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile)
Aisling Murphy’s stunning display enabled Wexford to return to the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Final after she scored four goals during her side’s demolition of Roscommon in the sweltering heat of Crettyard.
Lizzy Kent’s team maintained the recent trend of the previous year’s beaten intermediate finalists returning to Croke Park’s showpiece a year later, and they were full value for this comfortable victory on the Laois/Kilkenny border.
Murphy ended up with a personal tally of 4-3, all from play, and the dye was cast inside a minute when the Gusserane full-forward shook the Roscommon net.
Roscommon, who had beaten Wexford by a point in the Lidl NFL Division 3 decider in early April, did recover initially when Fiona Tully’s effort to the left of goal crept under Mary Rose Kelly’s crossbar, for a much-needed goal for Oliver Lennon’s side.
Further points from Niamh Feeney and Roisín Wynne gleaned further encouragement for the Connacht outfit but when Kellie Kearney was fouled in the 16th minute, after her initial effort came back off the post, Catriona Murray emphatically dispatched the resultant penalty.
Wexford’s pace and ability to find huge gaps through the centre of the Roscommon rearguard were their trump card, and two rapid-fire moves, after the westerners had turned over possession cheaply, ended with Murphy bagging her hat-trick of goals before the break as her side led by 4-5 to 1-5.
The teams swapped scores at the beginning of the new half, with Natalie McHugh and Aisling Hanly adding to Roscommon’s tally. Murphy and Amy Wilson (free) were on target for Wexford before the winners’ fourth goal arrived in the 46th minute. Predictably it was Murphy who got it after being set up by Murray when two Roscommon defenders collided.
Both sides emptied their bench after that, but there was still time for Wexford defender Shauna Murphy to grab her side’s sixth goal after Ciara Banville made inroads through the centre of the park.
Aisling Murphy and Murray found themselves in the sin bin for the last ten minutes, as did Roscommon’s Aisling MacAuliffe, but the game was already done and dusted.
Wexford are heading back to Croke Park, while Roscommon have to settle for Division 2 football and the intermediate ranks in 2023.
Scorers – Wexford: A Murphy 4-3, C Murray 1-2 (1 pen, 1f), A Wilson 0-4 (3f), S Murphy 1-0, S Hamilton, C Banville 0-1 each.
Roscommon: A Hanly 0-6 (4f), F Tully 1-0, N Feeney, R Wynne, N McHugh 0-1 each
ROSCOMMON: H Cummins; S Kenny, R Fitzmaurice, R Brady; R Wynne, A MacAuliffe, N Feeney; L O’Rourke, L Fleming; M McHugh, J Higgins, F Tully; A Hanly, N McHugh, C Conway.
Subs: E Irwin for O’Rourke (30), R Lennon for Tully (39), N Shanagher for M McHugh (43), M Kelly for Brady (43), L Shanagher for Fitzmaurice (49).
WEXFORD: MR Kelly; S Harding Kenny; A Halligan, S Murphy; O Kehoe, R Murphy, C Donnelly; K Kearney, C Banville; S Hamilton, C Murray, E O’Brien; B Breen, A Murphy, A Wilson.
Subs: A Cullen for Hamilton (49), A Cullen for Wilson (60), C O’Brien for Harding Kenny (60), A Byrne for Kehoe (60).
Ref – Gavin Finnegan (Down).