CLARA (KILKENNY) 3-20 OYLEGATE-GLENBRIEN 0-5
OYLEGATE-GLENBRIEN failed to seize the day as they were totally outclassed in their first provincial final appearance as they eventually lost out by a 24-point margin to a classy Clara outfit in this Leinster Club Intermediate hurling championship final at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, on Sunday last.
Going into this final the Wexford Intermediate champions knew they were facing a huge challenge, but few expected them to collapse in such a fashion. Really this game was over by the end of the opening quarter as a dominant Clara had built a 0-7 to 0-2 lead. It may have been only a five-point margin at this stage but the gulf in standards was patently evident for all to see through that opening spell.
It was a final that Oylegate-Glenbrien would sooner forget as it turned into a nightmare experience. Totally outhurled all over the pitch, as if that was not bad enough, they finished the game with just eleven players.
Referee Pat Murphy brandished second yellow cards on four occasions in a display that was bizarre to say the least, as during the entire game there wasn't a single dirty stroke. As one wag in the press box suggested, the game would not have been finished if it had been close such was the standard of refereeing as the sides would have ran out of players.
Just on half-time, M.J. Reck was dismissed on a second yellow, while the second period turned into more of a nightmare for the Wexford champions, if that was possible, as Fergus Heffernan went for an early shower on 54 minutes.
He was followed by his first cousin, Michael Heffernan, two minutes later, while 30 seconds from the end it was the turn of Fergal Doran to make his way to the dressing-room. But it must be said that the sendings off had no affect whatsoever on the result asClara were on the road to glory from very early in the game.
When Keith Hogan, brother of Kilkenny star, Brian, shot his side in front with a point inside 30 seconds of the start, it settled Clara into an early surge as they raced into a 0-5 to nil lead by the eighth minute. Oylegate-Glenbrien had to wait until the ninth minute for their opening score, a Fergal Doran pointed free.
After Hogan and Doran had exchanged pointed frees, Clara went on to increase their dominance on the game. Their first goal coming from Austin Murphy after 19 minutes left them with a 1-8 to 0-3 lead, with Fergal Doran popping over two pointed frees for the opposition in between.
As the half moved on Clara eased their way through it, picking off some excellent scores to go in with a 1-11 to 0-3 interval lead.
The second-half was only damage limitation as, down to 14 players, there was to be no way back for the boys in blue. Despite giving it their best effort through the opening ten minutes on the resumption, they lacked the skill apart from the numbers to take on their opponents, who went on to pick off scores at will.
Although Fergal Doran pointed a free within two minutes of the re-start, chances were limited for the Oylegate-Glenbrien attack who were unable to make any impression on what was a dominant defence, so much so that they did not have a single direct shot on goal during the 60 minutes. The weakness of the attack is shown in the statistics in that all of their five points came from Fergal Doran frees, with the forwards failing to raise even one flag during the course of the game.
Once Liam Ryan hit back with a 32ndminute point followed by a Brian O'Shea goal five minutes later, the floodgates really opened, as the home side powered all over the opposition. With Oylegate-Glenbrien failing to register another score for the remainder of the game, only desperate defending denied the home attack from adding further goals until two minutes from the end when substitute Conor O'Shea found the net from close range.
Not content with their massive lead, Clara, like all quality Kilkenny sides, continued to press forward, adding three points in additional time through Lester Ryan, Liam Ryan and Killian Phelan.
It was a day for Oylegate-Glenbrien and Wexford hurling to forget given the superiority of their opponents.