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The Youths Women made the short trip to Buckley Park on Sunday afternoon for the second South-East derby of the season. The Youths took a very comfortable 10 goal win over Kilkenny in their last meeting, but with the Youths now in very deep fixture congestion, they knew it would not be so comfortable on this occasion. The healthy crowd of Wexford fans that travelled up to Kilkenny were not disappointed on that count.


The game was played at a frantic tempo from the off, with both sides pressuring throughout and Kilkenny in particular playing a very high line. Both sides attempted to flood the midfield, and it was a fascinating battle in the link up play between Jess Gleeson and Edel Kennedy for the Youths; and Shianne Suarez and Sylvia Gee for Kilkenny. The opening twenty minutes of the game was very even, with the Youths possibly having a slight advantage in terms of chances. Best of the early exchanges was a good Youths cross-field ball to Emma Hansberry on the right wing, her shot parried away by Christine Coffey in the Kilkenny goal. Kylie Murphy immediately followed up with a decent shot from distance, against saved by Coffey.


After the opening phases there was a very solid period of Kilkenny pressure, one which belied their position at the bottom of the table with a single point to their name. Their purple patch started with a series of great runs by Jenny O'Keefe and Hannah Scott on the wings, making good in-roads into the Youths' half and testing both Youths' full backs regularly. Jess Gleeson also put in an excellent shift throughout the game, her no-nonsense defending being a significant factor in Wexford weathering the storm.


A moment of major controversy suddenly swung the game back in the visitor's favour on about 24 minutes. Claire O'Riordan sent a deft flick-on to Lauren Dwyer from a long ball, which the linesman immediately flagged for off side. Lauren Dwyer was then pulled back from her run by Karley Levy, which had the referee immediately pointing to the spot for a Youths penalty. There were major ructions around the ground, the Kilkenny dug-out appealing to the referee that he had to bring it back for the off-side. After a brief discussion with the linesman, the referee confirmed that it was a Wexford penalty, which Kylie Murphy had no difficulty dispatching for 1-0 to Wexford, very much against the run of play.


Kilkenny were far from out of it, but their confidence was about to take another savage blow. Almost immediately after the re-start, Wexford Youths doubled their lead in a similarly unexpected manner. A perfectly decent clearance by Christine Coffey was won by Claire O'Riordan in the centre, who played it out to Linda Douglas who immediately turned and took an ambitious 40-yard shot which crept under the bar for 2-0 to Wexford, Kilkenny suddenly finding themselves with an absolute mountain to climb.


Kilkenny were understandably shaken by the two rapid-fire goals, but lead by the hugely experienced Irish International and former Benfica player Sylvia Gee, Kilkenny resumed their high pressure on the Youths all over the pitch. Jess Gleeson and Edel Kennedy did extremely well to snuff out the majority of Kilkenny's attacks, and the Youths just about got the better of the chances for the remainder of the game. More patient build-up lead to the Youths getting a third goal in the first half, which made a Kilkenny come-back all but impossible.


The Youths grew into the game and picked up their third before half time to seal the victory. Kylie Murphy gave an excellent through-ball to Linda Douglas in space. Shianne Suarez headed away the cross only as far as Lauren Dwyer, who crossed to Claire O'Riordan who could head it past the Kilkenny keeper for 3-0.


In the second half, Youths manager Will Doyle made a raft of changes, as expected from a team suffering from the heavy fixture congestion. Shauna Wall, Rachel Hutchinson and Meghan Whitty coming on for Edel Kennedy, Claire O'Riordan and Emma Hansberry, being given their opportunity to shine. Kilkenny continued to press hard on a somewhat fatigued Wexford side, but the Youths remained resolute and Kilkenny struggled to eke out any clear cut chances in the second half. Shaunna Wall put in a quality performance on the left wing, using her significant height advantage over Kilkenny full-back Michaella Farrell to provide a good outlet for Wexford's attacks.


Meghan Whitty put in a very energetic performance up front in place of Claire O'Riordan, which was a thrill to see for Wexford fans who know how tired most of the Youths squad must be. Whitty nearly managed to sneak a fourth for Wexford mid-way through the second half, when Christine failed to get a good grasp on a cross in from the left. Whitty had almost managed to snatch it away but Coffey was able to hold on by the finger-tips. The closely fought game at Buckley Park ended 3-0 for Wexford Youths, and it was a very hard earned three points by the visitors.


After the tough game, Edel Kennedy had this to say:  "Another solid performance by the squad to help keep our title hopes alive.  With only three games left its very important that we keep focused on our next game.  We need to keep working well as a team and hopefully by doing this we will keep picking up the points."

The next opponent for Wexford is Peamount United away, who have not had the same struggle with large amounts of postponed and abandoned games.  As a result, they have not played in a number of weeks, a fact which Kennedy was wary of:
"Peamount will be tricky, they have some good players.  They haven't played in a few weeks so its hard to know where they're at at the moment."


With just three league games remaining versus Peamount United, Galway and Shelbourne, it is time to consider the calculations of what Wexford need to retained the Women's National League title. Wexford are certain that if they win their next two games, away to Peamount and Galway, they will be champions. If Wexford fail to pick up points in one of those games, it will likely come down to that last game of the season, away to second-place Shelbourne. In the event that Wexford and Shelbourne finish level on points, the title will be decided by a play-off, goal difference will not be considered.





Kilkenny United: Christine Coffey, Michaella Farrell, Olivia Nolan, Karley Levy, Shianne Suarez, Sylvia Gee, Jenny O'Keefe, Sinead Gaynor (Laura Hallissey), Ciara Delaney, Aisling Carroll (Tara Power), Hannah Scott


Subs not used: Aoife Cantwell


Wexford Youths: Tamara Furlong; Orlaith Conlon, Jess Gleeson, Nicola Sinnott; Edel Kennedy (Rachel Hutchinson), Becky Cassin, Kylie Murphy, Emma Hansberry (Shaunna Wall), Linda Douglas; Lauren Dwyer, Claire O'Riordan (Meghan Whitty)


Subs not used: Aisling Frawley



League of Ireland First Division

    Pld +/- Pts
8 Cabinteely 11 -6 12
9 Wexford FC 13 -21 7
10 Athlone Town 12 -40 1

Full table


Women's National League

    Pld +/- Pts
1 Peamount United 7 16 17
2 Wexford Youths Women 6 10 16
3 Shelbourne LFC 7 16 15

Full table


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