IT IS very difficult to know what words of consolation to offer the Oulart hurlers when, for the second year in a row, they suffered a demoralising defeat at the hands of a fiercely determined Offaly opposition.
The tag of favourites again seemed to weigh very heavily on their shoulders as Kilcormac-Killoughey's forceful and direct hurling saw them run out deserving winners at the end of a very entertaining game.
There is no doubt that Oulart had chances to win the game and were very unfortunate not to have netted twice in the second-half, with goalkeeper Conor Slevin doing extremely well (aided by a degree of luck, particularly on the second effort) to keep the Oulart men out.
In truth, Oulart needed one of these efforts to find a home to ignite their performance which seemed to lack conviction after the early body blow of Dan Currams' second-minute goal, after some hesitancy in the defence.
When we analyse and strip down the ingredients vital for success in the game it does go a long way to explaining why the trophy rests in the midlands. Firstly Kilcormac executed a very simple gameplan which was built around direct hurling and hunting in packs.
Their forwards had a policy of running at backs and when the opportunity arose shooting on sight. They completely dominated the aerial battles and they had huge success in winning breaking ball when it hit the deck. In the main when there were rucks or melees we were treated to the sight of an Offaly man coming away with possession.
This is in no way to blame the application of the men in red and black as it has to be factored in that Kilcormac were physically a huge team with as many six footers on the field as I have witnessed in my time attending matches.
Given the conditions this gave them a huge advantage and I think it would be fair to say if the game was played in the middle of the summer we may well have a different result.
On the day their touch and striking were a little better than their opponents and their forward threat was stronger than at the other end with Dan Currams, James Gorman and the Geraghtys causing lots of problems with their strong running.
Oulart didn't register from play in the second-half and with only two forwards adding to Nicky Kirwan's excellent free-taking (particularly in the first-half), during the full course of the game the signs were ominous for Pat Herbert's men facing into the final quarter.
Over-elaboration and a little too much concentration on carrying the ball didn't help their cause either given the conditions. Despite all this the only thing that separated the teams all through was the early goal and Oulart strove gamely to get the break that would have meant so much to their effort.
This latest defeat is particularly hard to take and one has to have huge sympathy for some of the more seasoned campaigners like Paul Roche, Darren Stamp, Keith Rossiter, Darren Nolan and the Jacobs amongst others, who surely deserve to have made the breakthrough in Leinster at this point.
Luck certainly hasn't been on their side but the only thing they can do is look forward to next year, re-double their efforts and realise that any year you win a county title is not a bad year. Oulart will be back and there is a duty on the rest of the clubs in the county to get up to their standard. If they do Wexford will have no worries going forward.
Finally, I was sitting in front of Brian Cowen, former Taoiseach, at the game on Sunday and he was passionate and vocal in his support for his fellow Offaly men. Mr. Cowen has been a great supporter of Offaly hurling over the years.
He went for a cup of tea at halftime (I think that's where he went) and on returning got a little confused, couldn't find his seat and ended up sitting beside me.
After a few seconds his friends beckoned him back up to where he originally sat and as he climbed over a few people apologised and informed them he had lost his seat.
A well-known Wexford fan piped up immediately: 'it's not the first time you lost a seat'.
It only goes to show that we might lose the odd match in Wexford but we will never lose our sense of humour.
Up the yellow bellies.