Rampant Oylegate spoil party
Permanent TSB Junior 'B' Hurling Championship Final: Oylegate-G'brien 1-16 R'garogue-C'town 0-5
Oylegate-Glenbrien emphatically spoiled the treble bid of Rathgarogue-Cushinstown in Bellefield on Sunday when they cruised to a commanding 14-point win with a fine show of strength in this Permanent TSB Junior 'B' hurling championship final.
Their Ross District rivals went into the game on a high note, having already claimed the Junior and Junior 'B' football titles, but this time around they had no answer to the power and poise of the boys in blue and white who clearly benefited from the extra game they needed to see off Liam Mellows in the penultimate round.
Oylegate-Glenbrien faced the wind first, but they had a lot of the difficult work done by half-time when they held a deserved 1-5 to 0-4 lead.
And their dominance grew with every passing minute on the re-start, outscoring a rapidly floundering Rathgarogue-Cushinstown by 0-11 to just one reply from a free to become the outright leaders in the Junior 'B' roll of honour.
They were joint top on three apiece with St. Martin's beforehand, but they have now secured that precious fourth crown to go with previous victories in 1987, 1991 and 2007.
And, bearing in mind that the club also won a Junior 'A' championship in 2010, it's clear that Oylegate-Glenbrien are well versed in getting the very best from their hurling second string.
They opened brightly with the first two points from Barry Dunne (free and play), the latter after a neat pass from the lively Conor Nolan who contributed a lot to the win despite being the only attacker not to make the scoresheet.
However, Rathgarogue-Cushinstown responded well, with Aaron Ryan latching on to a stray opposition clearance to open their account in the ninth minute before two Paddy Barron frees put them into a 0-3 to 0-2 lead.
The loss of experienced centre-forward James Devereux with a collar bone injury early in the second quarter didn't help their cause, and they would have conceded at least one goal around the midway stage of the half were it not for some fine saves by Fionn Slattery.
His first stop came from Eoin O'Mahoney in the 13th minute, and he did equally well to get to the rebound and flick it away before a forward pounced.
Barry Dunne and Conor Nolan then combined to put Tomás Cosgrave in the clear, but once again Slattery showed what he was made of between the posts.
Oylegate-Glenbrien eventually settled for an equalising point from Cosgrave after a Marty Kelly delivery, the first score in almost 13 minutes (0-3 each).
Slattery next denied Conor Nolan from a ground stroke, but the Enniscorthy District men kept the attack alive and Patrick Cullen put them in front with a point.
Barry Dunne (free) and Colin Whelan exchanged points and, given his defiance beforehand, it was cruel luck on netminder Slattery when he was finally beaten almost 90 seconds into added time.
He could only fumble a high ball from the left by Barry Dunne on that occasion, and the opportunist Joe Dunne was on hand to sweep it to the net at the Bellefield Road end.
Trailing by 1-5 to 0-4 and still to face the wind, it was a nigh on impossible task for Rathgarogue-Cushinstown who were appearing in a first final since 2011, and bidding to add to their sole previous Junior 'B' success in 1985.
Oylegate-Glenbrien didn't give them a look-in though and, by the time Peter Aspel picked off the losers' sole point of the second-half from a 50th-minute free, they had conceded another six on the bounce.
Marty Kelly (two), Eoin O'Mahoney, Barry Dunne (two) and centre-back Niall Parker had made the end result a foregone conclusion by that stage, and the by-now rampant leaders continued to enjoy themselves in the closing stages. Kelly's first arrived after a mere seven seconds and set the tone for what followed.
The former Monageer-Boolavogue man added another brace before Joe and Barry Dunne (two, one free) widened the winning margin to 14 in added time, on a day when Aidan Murphy, Pádraic O'Connor and Garry Conroy had led a staunch defensive effort when the game was competitive in the opening half.
It took Oylegate-Glenbrien a while to work their way around defiant Rathgarogue-Cushinstown centre-back Francis O'Brien early in the second period, and Ian Kennedy was another who tried very hard, but overall the losers will be the first to acknowledge that this simply wasn't their day. Those football successes one weekend earlier will undoubtedly help to soften the blow.
Oylegate-Glenbrien had lost two District deciders plus a county semi-final to the eventual champions by one point since going down in this particular final to Kilmore at the same venue in 2014, so they were determined to make the very most of this opportunity.
With a generally young squad, coupled with the progress of their Seniors to the last four for the first time since 1963, hurling is definitely on an upward curve in the club and it showed in this impressive collective display.
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Kevin Cosgrave; Evan Kelly, Pádraic O'Connor, Aidan Murphy; Garry Conroy, Niall Parker (0-1), Peter Rowley; Marty Kelly (joint capt., 0-4), Anthony Doyle; Conor Nolan, Patrick Cullen (0-1), Barry Dunne (0-7, 3 frees); Joe Dunne (1-1), Eoin O'Mahoney (0-1), Tomás Cosgrave (0-1). Subs. - Barry Doyle for T. Cosgrave (57), Pierce Murphy for O'Mahoney (57), Lee Kehoe for Conroy (58), Trevor Moulton for Cullen (58), David Phillips for A. Murphy (59), also Eddie Mernagh, John Lambert, Mark Gordon, Brian Doran (joint capt.), Peter Nolan.
Rathgarogue-Cushinstown: Fionn Slattery; Colm Murphy (joint capt.), Paul Murphy, John O'Keeffe; Eoghan Whelan (joint capt.), Francis O'Brien, Ian Kennedy; Peter Aspel (0-3 frees), John Bolger; Aaron Ryan (0-1), James Devereux, Mark Carroll; Shane O'Connor, Colin Whelan (0-1), Paddy Barron. Subs. - John James Martin-Carroll for Devereux, inj. (17), Liam Roche for O'Connor (38), Barry Murphy for Ryan (50), Shane Kelly for O'Keeffe (55), Eoin Burke for Carroll (59), also Jack McGrath, Jack Murphy, Ken Slattery, James Bolger, Seamie Bourke, Adam Bookle.
Referee: Damien Donovan (Volunteers).