A DEADLY first-half double strike by corner-forward Diane Ryan propelled Oulart-The Ballagh to their fourth Leinster Senior Club camogie championship title in a row at Newbridge on Sunday last.
In a tight battle, played in horrific conditions, goals proved vital and it was Ryan who pounced to make pivotal breakthroughs during a tight, competitive firsthalf.
With Oulart winning the last two Leinster finals against their Dublin rivals (2-9 to 1-9 in 2010 and 2-12 to 1-4 in 2011), the Wexford champions came into the contest as warm favourites.
They looked to stamp an early marker on proceedings with ' player of the game' Stacey Kehoe driving the side on from midfield, but it was Ballyboden who had the better of the opening five minutes. However, Oulart-The Ballagh are not All-Ireland champions for nothing and hit their opponents for the opening goal in their first foray forward.
Una Leacy pulled on a low ball breaking around the '45, and the quick-fire pass was perfect for Ryan running horizontally across the goal from the right as she pulled on the ball past Síle Nic Coitir to the Ballyboden net.
Ryan was involved again, flicking a shot that the 'Boden stopper had to deal with, but when Karen Atkinson was penalised for an illegal handpass the south Dublin side got their first score, an Anne Griffin free, the result of which was hotly disputed after it appeared to drift left and wide.
Ursula Jacob was twice fouled within 60 seconds and she pointed the resulting frees on both occasions, but a further 12 minutes passed as the rain drizzled and Ballyboden employed a seventh defender.
Una Leacy fed Jacob down the right to break the dearth of scores as the full-forward squeezed a point over from the tightest of angles. The second goal, which really left Ballyboden with a mountain to climb, quickly followed.
This time a spot of inaccuracy from the imperious Jacob paid dividends. The All-Ireland ' player of the game's' free bounced down off the upright but Ryan was on hand to control on the hurl and unleash a sensational finish to the Ballyboden net (2-3 to 0-1).
Griffin's second dead ball score just before the interval left the gap at seven and her side bookended the midway break well with a Martha O'Donoghue point seconds after the resumption.
Playing against a more traditional formation after half-time, Oulart-The Ballagh took nine minutes to get on the scoresheet again as Jacob added her fourth point after Ryan was felled (2-4 to 0-3).
An almighty scramble that initially saw an Una Leacy shot saved by Nic Coitir and then Ryan denied a hattrick by a goal-line clearance was eventually forced away by Ballyboden, but Jacob soon grabbed the next point to see the holders close the third quarter ahead by eight.
Ciara Lucey tacked on a ' 45 for her side but Jacob replied after she was clattered under a puck-out.
Like in 2012, Ballyboden padded their score with a late goal, a 60th-minute free by Lucey, but Oulart-The Ballagh had a little sting in their tail as Shauna Sinnott and Aishling Moran combined down the left to release Jacob to fire home four minutes into the six and a half minutes of injury time.
It all meant that Oulart-The Ballagh comfortably wrapped up their fourth Leinster title in as many years. The Wexford champions must now wait until February to take their next step to defending their All-Ireland title when they take on the Munster winners.