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Wexford Roll With The Punches To Reach All-Ireland Intermediate Final

5 September 2021; Róisín Murphy of Wexford during the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Championship Final match between Westmeath and Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

By PJ Browne

"It’s like being punched! It genuinely is," says Wexford captain Róisín Murphy about her side losing two finals already this season.

Wexford lost the Ladies Football National League Division 3 final to Roscommon in early April and then the Leinster intermediate decider to Kildare six weeks later. However, they have not been knockout blows. This team knows how to get off the canvas.

Last September, Wexford lost the All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship final to Westmeath by an embarrassing 25 points. 11 months on and they are back in the intermediate final for an all-Leinster clash against Laois.

"Last year was very disappointing, the result was one thing but to get to that stage and not perform or completely under perform was really disappointing," says Murphy.

"We had a really tough year our manager left in the middle of the year. Lizzie (Kent) 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’s something we have looked at and learned form and a big focus for us this year has been about performance."

26 July 2022; In attendance at a photocall ahead of the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship Final on Sunday next are Aimee Kelly of Laois and Roisin Murphy of Wexford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

After losing that provincial final, Wexford breezed through the championship group stage, picking up wins against Offaly, Wicklow and Leitrim. They beat Tyrone by five in the quarters and got revenge on Roscommon in the semis, putting 6-11 past them in a 17-point win.

A key addition to Wexford backroom team this season has been sports psychologist Emma Saunders.

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"It feels like a different Wexford team," says Murphy.

"Lizzie still the same, brings that huge energy and it is infectious at training. We are in a really good place. It is an enjoyable squad to be part of. The energy is really good and that is showing when we are playing as well.

"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. 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."

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Wexford have already beaten Laois this year, coming back from 11 points down to defeat them in an extra-time Leinster semi-final thriller.

"For me I know the capability that is in the team and when we don’t deliver," says Murphy.

"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.

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"But 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 it 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.

"Getting there last year proved one thing to us that we are good enough to be there and I think that’s 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.

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"We are really looking forward to Sunday but it's about delivering the performance we are actually capable of."

Sunday's All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Championship final between Laois and Wexford will be live on TG4 with throw-in at 1:45pm.

See Also: Kerry Have Raised The Bar On The Pitch, And The Issues Off It

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