Oulart The Ballagh 2-13 Cuala 0-13
Netwatch Dr Cullen Park November 29th 2015.
Photo from SportsFile
A year after they came together under their new manager, at a time when they had been defeated in the Wexford quarter final, Oulart The Ballagh have been crowned Leinster senior hurling champions.
They had many near misses before they won their first Wexford senior title in 1994 and that year they brought the great Birr side to a replay before losing out for the first time in a Leinster final. Nobody thought that day 21 years ago that such a great hurling Club would dominate the Wexford Championship but fail to make the provincial breakthrough.
Many near misses, 4 in a row from 2010 thru 2013 all ended in defeat. Today however nothing would get in their way.
The Dublin champions Cúala, who had defeated the Kilkenny title holde rs in their semi final provided the opposition.
The weather was unkind to put it mildly. Oulart are a fast top of the ground hurling side and Hurricane Clodagh made for totally alien conditions for their classy skills.
They won the toss and opted to play with the wind but found it difficult to score against the 8 man Cúala defence.
The long ball into the forwardswas overshooting its target with the wind carrying further than expected and Oulart lead by only 5-2 after 15 minutes. Tommy Storey was their most potent attacker as he drifted into space and picked off 3 first half points.
Free taker Nicky Kirwan, who overcame injury to play today, found the wind unpredictable. He pointed one from his own 65 out near the sideline but missed from 45m in front of goal. It was that sort of day. As half time approached Cúala looked to be in a comfortable position, 7-2 behind and the wind to follow. Then Garrett Sinnott caught the first puc out of the day for Oulart. He fed Michael Jacob who managed to get the ball toward David Redmond. David missed it first time but as is his trade mark, he ran onto it, collected, burst through tackles and then made an outside pass to the advancing Tomás Dunne. Tomás, son of Tomás, cut back towards the square and tapped the ball past the advancing goalkeeper. Half time was blown on the puc out and Oulart went in with a pep in their step.
The opening minutes if the second half would be vital if Oulart were to capture the title. They came out storming and hit two quick points against the wind before their opponents settled. Nicky Kirwan and Tomás Dunne with the scores.
Dessie Mythen added a point and Oulart looked strong. David Treacy scored another free while Dessie Mythen scored the point of the day, great skill.
Next ball saw Eoin Moore win a hard ball and tried to clear at half way but was fouled. He took the free himself and hit a beauty that landed just in the small square, the goalkeeper rose to catch over the outstretched hurls of OTB forwards but it glanced off his hand and dropped a metre short of the line where Garrett Sinnott was first to react and booted the ball in the net. OTB were now cruising have scored 1-3 against the wind in only 13 minutes gone in the second half. 2-10 to 0-4.
The old sports cliché about momentum sprung into action. OTB relaxed, just a bit, but Cúala are not Dublin champions for no reason. They upped their game as they saw the title could be slipping from their reach. OTB starting fouling as they seemed to tire with the big lead playing on their minds. David Tracey pointed each time, five in a row in seven minutes and the pressure began to mount again on OTB. 2-10 to 0-9 with ten minutes to go. Eoin Moore raced forward and won a free in, Nicky Kirwan pointed and stemmed the flow. Cúala hurled like they didn’t notice that score and kept piling the pressure on.
They hit two more points leaving five points between the teams and seven minutes remaining. The game ebbed and flowed, Peter Murphy came on for Michael Jacob still 5 up 6 minutes to go. Peter Sutton came on for Tomás Dunne 5 up 5 to go. Cúala kept pressing, Tommy Storey, now back helping the defence got in a great block, Garrett Sinnott won another ball and was fouled trying to clear. Nicky Kirwan shot wide from a difficult angle at the other end, it was tough stuff and nervous for the supporters from Wexford but for the Parish men and women it was torture. Eoin Moore again raced forward but this time he pointed himself and with 2 to go it looked good.
Rory Jacob cleared a ball over the sideline with one to go and then the fourth official announced that there was to be FOUR MINUTES yes 4 minutes added time. Nerves !! no one could believe it. A Cúala goal now and everything could be ruined. The sun made an appearance and the players held their heads under pressure. Cúala won a 20m free out to the side and tapped over to leave 5 between the sides. Shaun Murphy went down injured, slowed things down. David Redmond raced though again (some stamina) won another free, Nicky tapped over and the lads played the whistle down.
Eventually after 65 minutes the whistle did sound and the pitch, which had stood up really well to the conditions (Well done Carlow) was now getting its biggest test as young and old in boots, wellies, loafers and even heels (yep saw one pair, brave woman). Barry Kehoe eventually marched his troops up the steps to collect the trophy and in true family tradition gave a roaring speech (watch out Uncle Paul he could be after your job next)
A great day for Wexford hurling but a remarkable day for Oulart The Ballagh GAA Club. They are now Leinster Senior Champions in hurling and camogie (reigning All Ireland champions in camogie also). Unreal achievement. Former teachers Breda Jacob and Breda Flood were only matched for their proud look by Michael Jacob senior. They say that to make history you have to stand on the shoulders of giants well the giants of Oulart The Ballagh are standing tall tonight.
Scorers for Oulart-The Ballagh: Nicky Kirwan 0-5 (3f, 1 ’65’), Tomas Dunne 1-1, Tommy Storey 0-3, Garrett Sinnott 1-0, Des Mythen 0-2, David Redmond 0-1, Eoin Moore 0-1
Scorers for Cuala: David Treacy 0-10 (7f), Con O’Callaghan 0-2, Sean Treacy 0-1
OULART-THE BALLAGH: Conor O’Leary; Barry Kehoe, Keith Rossiter, Eoin Moore; Paul Roche, Shaun Murphy, Kevin Sheridan; David Redmond, Michael Jacob; Rory Jacob, Tomas Dunne, Tommy Storey; Des Mythen, Garrett Sinnott, Nicky Kirwan. Subs: Dennis Morton for Michael Jacob 51, Peter Murphy for Tomas Dunne 54, Peter Sutton for Sinnott 60.
CUALA: Sean Brennan; Simon Timlin, Cian O’Callaghan, John Sheanon; Ross Tierney, Oisin Gough, Sean Moran; Jake Malone, Darragh O’Connell; Con O’Callaghan, Colm Cronin, Cian Waldron; David Treacy, Mark Schutte, Sean Treacy. Subs: Colm Sheanon for Moran 23, Nicky Kenny for Colum Sheanon 45.
Referee: David Hughes (Carlow)
Comhghairdeas le gach libh go léir Report by Rory Murphy
photo from Sportsfile David Maher