'YOU GOTTA fall in order to mend' - Oulart-the Ballagh have done a lot of falling over the last few years.
The breakthrough to win county championships ended as Leinster losers. Those days were replaced by agony in All-ireland semi-finals. Success followed by relative failure, but that's the way it is for most sides. There can only be one All-ireland champion. The All-ireland champions are now Oulart. They are fully mended.
The above lyric is from American singer Joshua Radin's song, 'Brand New Day'. Sunday in Croke Park was a brand new day for the 2012 All-ireland Senior Club camogie champions. In truth, it's been a brand new year. Everything has been different - on the pitch this side has assumed the aura of winners. They've had that swagger since Aideen Brennan goaled in the county final to rock Rathnure.
The teenage corner-forward goaled twice again - in the first-half into the Hill end, then in the second to cement victory. She was one of many star performers. Stacey Redmond took the 'player of the game' award and it would be folly to argue against that decision - her form has spiked to such an extent that she is a clear option for the Senior inter-county side.
The whole defence was superb - Mary Leacy was just as impressive beside her yet nobody expected anything less from the All Star. Shauna Sinnott defied her age with another mature performance. The fullback line hardly budged all day while the front eight always looked a step quicker than their opponents, to such an extent that it would be difficult to pinpoint someone who lost an individual battle.
Being uber-critical, there were probably two minispells in which the levels weren't quite as high. The opening exchanges looked beset with nerves, decision-making was off and mistakes plentiful. Then, after the third Oulart goal the intensity clearly dropped - again hard to blame a team that was on the verge of achieving their ultimate goal.
However, that first spell lasted not much longer than it took Ursula Jacob to clip over the opening point from close range after a ball inside broke out to her in the eighth minute.
An incisive run by Tanya Stamp created the second point for Stacey Kehoe - back in the corner-forward spot after the return of twin sister Shelley from the Lebanon - as Oulart started to tighten the noose.
Soon enough the Drom goal was leading a charmed life too. Kehoe had earlier pulled a shot wide but Aideen Brennan made no mistake when her chance came as she tucked home Una Leacy's centre from the left (1-2 to nil).
Brennan turned provider in the 16th minute as her crossfield pass to Kehoe was swatted at hip-height over the crossbar for the Wexford side's third minor, and the pressure kept coming as Jacob pointed for the second time following a precise Diane Ryan pass.
Drom had lived dangerously on a couple of occasions following Brennan's opening goal but their respite quickly came to an end in the 22nd minute. Una Leacy collected a Stacey Redmond sideline, ran in on goal and flicked a shot into the top corner of Rosie Kenneally's net (2-4 to nil).
Down by ten, the Tipperary side sent on substitute Anne Eviston - a move akin to trying to repair a severed head with a band-aid. Una Leacy fired wide from close range as the side she captained threatened a third goal.
A fifth and sixth point arrived through Ursula Jacob before the interval (2-6 to nil), but not before Niamh Harkin came close for Drom with a speculative high shot that Helena Jacob did well to clear away from danger.
The Oulart-the Ballagh scores continued to flow in the first ten minutes of the second-half and the game was put to bed before Drom got their first.
Louise Sinnott pointed from Una Leacy's lay-off seconds after the re-start and, after Kehoe shot wide with a goal on, Jacob grabbed her fifth point (2-8 to nil).
The lead of 14 increased further when Leacy again played the role of provider, putting Brennan in the clear and, despite getting a tip on the shot, Kenneally couldn't keep it out of the Drom goal.
The teenager quickly followed her goal with another point but her side would be outscored by 0-5 to 01 in the next 17 minutes as Drom-inch enjoyed their best spell of the game and the Oulart foot came off the accelerator.
Caitríona Shortt provided the bookends to further points from Geraldine Kinane, Joanne Ryan and Mary Looby as the Premier county club finally found a little space within the Oulart defence, although the run may not have been as profitable had Aideen Brennan's 48th-minute shot clipped the bar and went under rather than over (3-10 to 0-5).
There was still time for Ursula Jacob to point two frees, and for an impressive Stacey Kehoe to get her third point, as Oulart finished out the game strong and the Drom sting waned.
The final whistle unsurprisingly brought joyous scenes in Croke Park as Una Leacy lifted the Carroll Cup and Oulart-the Ballagh became the third Wexford side to claim an All-ireland club camogie title. Who knows, maybe next year no mending will be necessary.