Wexford players celebrate after their TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Championship Semi-Final win over Roscommon.
Wexford players celebrate after their TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Championship Semi-Final win over Roscommon.

Wexford ladies fuelled by past failures


By John Harrington

Wexford captain Róisín Murphy doesn’t have to look far for a source of motivation ahead of Sunday’s TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Final against Laois.

The Slaneysiders made it this far last year too, but it was a tough day as they were beaten by 25 points by a rampant Westmeath team.

When Murphy casts her mind back to that experience the painful memory is still etched on her face.

“The result was one thing but to get to that stage and not perform or completely under perform was really disappointing,” she says.

“It’s something we have looked at and learned from and a big focus for us this year has been about performance.

“Getting there last year proved one thing to us that we are good enough to be there and I think that’s is one thing we are working on this year, we got to the league final and lost that and lost the Leinster final too, we keep putting ourselves in these positions and each time we are learning.

“We are really looking forward to Sunday but it’s about delivering the performance we are actually capable of.”

Wexford showed in their 17-point semi-final demolition of Roscommon just how good they are when they play to their full potential.

And yet this was the same Roscommon team that beat them in the Division Three League Final earlier in the year, so consistency is clearly an issue.

Róisín Murphy of Wexford in action against Lorraine Duncan of Westmeath during the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Championship Final match between Westmeath and Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. 
Róisín Murphy of Wexford in action against Lorraine Duncan of Westmeath during the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Championship Final match between Westmeath and Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. 

Losing in Finals is too, as Wexford were also beaten in the Leinster Intermediate Final by Kildare this year. Failing to deliver in those big matches is something that really pains Murphy.

“It’s like being punched!”, she says. “It genuinely is. For me I know the capability that is in the team and when we don’t deliver. The Leinster final was different, Kildare were just better than us on the day.

“Intermediate is so competitive this year it is fantastic but it takes time and energy to reset after those defeats but I think we are taking the right things from them and focusing on the learnings of what we want to change.

“Bit by bit across this year our performance has changed, the way we play has changed, we are less getting caught in the loopholes we used to if you like. It’s been nice the last few games. Tyrone was a battle but we still played our football, Roscommon was the same and in the league final that is something we didn’t do with Roscommon.

“We are adding to it bit by bit and we are dragging ourselves to the place where we can deliver this performance that we want.”

Murphy believes a lot of lessons have been learned from past failings, and that the group is benefitting now from working on their mental game as well as physical one.

“It’s about aspects of play, what the turning point is,” she says. “We have a great sports psychologist with us this year, Emma Saunders, and she is great at helping you identify the turning point, she’s at all our games. So, what happened, why did it change, and what caused the turn in the team.

“The game against Laois where we came back, what was the positive turning point in that? What changed to go from not having a good day to having a good day? It’s always aspects of the game and it is about managing it a bit better each time you go out and then when you are slipping it is easier to catch yourself.”

In attendance at a photocall ahead of the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship Final on Sunday next were Aimee Kelly of Laois and Róisín Murphy of Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. 
In attendance at a photocall ahead of the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship Final on Sunday next were Aimee Kelly of Laois and Róisín Murphy of Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. 

If a group of players are happy then they’re much likely to be successful, and Murphy feels like Wexford are a much more contented bunch this year than last year when manager Paul Carty resigned from his position after the team was relegated to Division 3.

Lizzy Kent did a great job to right the ship and get the team as far as the Intermediate Final, but now that she’s had a full season to work with the players they’re really feeling the benefits of her approach.

“We had a really tough last year when our manager left in the middle of the year,” admits Murphy.

“Lizzy came in then and to fall the way we fell on the last day was hard and psychologically really hard to bring yourself back …. it was a hard year.

“So I think when Lizzie was back some were a little bit sluggish in coming back and making decisions I think people just needed a little bit of time.

“But then we got going again then and sat down and spoke as a team about what we want to achieve.

“After the year we had, this might sound a bit different, but the focus was about creating a space within our unit where the player was as valued as for the person she was as much as the player on the pitch and that is quite different and feels quite strong. It takes you to a space, it’s almost a safe space within the squad which is really good.

“We are in a really good place. It is an enjoyable squad to be part of, the energy is really good and that's showing when we are playing as well.”