Wexford Youths showed they won't be giving up their Continental Women's National League crown without a fight as they began their title defence with an impressive dismantling of Limerick FC in Ferrycarrig Park.

An early strike from Kylie Murphy followed by a Rianna Jarrett double had the Slaneysiders in complete control at half-time and they didn't let up after the interval, with Becky Conroy and Claire O'Riordan adding to their handsome tally.

In fact the Youths could have recorded a far more comfortable victory, were it not for a touch of rustiness in front of goal and a couple of decent saves from Limerick goalkeeper Trish Fennelly.
The hosts were immediately on the front foot and Claire O'Riordan had two sights of goal in the opening six minutes.

With just over 60 seconds on the clock the Irish international got on the end of a Becky Conroy cross and shot straight at the goalkeeper, while moments later she burst into the box and rounded Fennelly but dragged her effort from an acute angle wide of the left upright.

They did get their noses in front in the 12th minute and it was captain Kylie Murphy who did the needful, applying a confident finish when the ball found its way to her feet near to the penalty spot.

Seconds later Murphy came close to getting an assist to her name when she played a pin-point pass through to O'Riordan, but Fennelly was quickly off her line to avert the danger.

The chances kept coming for the hosts, with Conroy and Jarrett warming the gloves of Fennelly, before Wexford doubled their tally with 22 minutes on the clock. Ciara Rossiter's cross from the left wing almost crept under the crossbar, but when Fennelly clawed it out Rianna Jarrett was lurking and she nodded it in from two yards out

Wexford Youths added a third a minute before the break and again it was Jarrett who applied the finish. Becky Conroy's rasping drive was well saved by the busy Fennelly, but Jarrett again showed her predatory instincts to find the net close range.

Limerick put a bit of pressure on the Wexford defence early in the second-half, with Sylvia Gee's shot from outside the area being deflected out for a corner in the 49th minute.

Gee then caused a few hearts to pound in the home rearguard just before the hour mark when she fizzed in a dangerous corner-kick from the left and when the ball fell to Marie Curtin her strike was blocked.

It was business as usual for Wexford on 63 minutes though, with Becky Conroy grabbing the goal her all-action performance deserved as she arrowed a blistering drive to the net after Nicola Sinnott's punt forward was cleared into her path on the left-hand edge of the area.

Claire O'Riordan, who was industrious as ever, got her name on the scoresheet with 12 minutes remaining as she raced clear, before holding her nerve and calming slotting the ball past Fennelly.

Limerick continued to try hard but never looked like breaching a strong Wexford rearguard that spent more spraying passes forward than being forced to defend.

It was a pleasing start for new Wexford Youths manager Tom Elmes, but he will be well aware that much stiffer tests lie ahead, starting with a formidable Peamount United outfit next month.

Wexford Youths Women: Sophie Lenehan, Nicola Sinnott, Lauren Dwyer, Orlaith Conlon, Ciara Rossiter, Becky Conroy, Edel Kennedy, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Aoibhin Webb, Rianna Jarrett, Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Rebekah Carroll for Rossiter (53), Becky Cassin for Kennedy (61), Orla Casey for Jarrett (73), also Ciara Delaney, Ciamh Dollard, Amy Walsh, Katrina Parrock.

Limerick FC: Trish Fennelly, Carys Johnson, Tara Mannix, Marie Curtin (capt.), Rebecca Mahon, Lauren Keane, Claire Kelly, Megan Kelleher, Sylvia Gee, Rebecca Horgan, Chloe Connolly.
Subs. - Aisling O'Connor for Mahon (31), Megan Carroll for Kelly (63), Sophie Gleeson for Keane (78), also Sabrina McCarthy, Sophie Hudner, Alanna Morris, Karen Connolly.

Referee: Nicholas Boland.

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