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The Ballagh hit 'pinnacle' with victory in Nowlan Park

OULART-THE-BALLAGH have established themselves as the new frontrunners for AIB Leinster club hurling glory this year after they ambushed James Stephens in their own Nowlan Park citadel yesterday.

The three-in-a-row Wexford champions finally took that elusive Kilkenny scalp with a fully merited 2-12 to 0-15 triumph, having seen their provincial dreams shattered by Ballyhale (after extra-time) in 2009 and O'Loughlin Gaels last season.

"In Wexford, we're talking about beating Kilkenny teams all our lives. They're the pinnacle of everything, aren't they?" reflected a delighted winning boss, Liam Dunne, afterwards.

Just a week after their county final replay win over Ballyhale, James Stephens were brought crashing back to earth. They undoubtedly missed their suspended skipper, Jackie Tyrrell, but manager Niall Rigney declined to blame that or fatigue for this defeat, instead lamenting: "We just gifted them two goals and were left chasing the game. That killed us."

Those two precious strikes, either side of half-time, came from a long-range Shane Murphy free that seemed to be lost in the blinding sun and then top-scorer Eoin Moore (1-5) who blocked down an attempted clearance from Tomas Keogh before pulling first-time to the net.

Oulart's reward is a home semi-final against Clough/ Ballacolla of Laois next Sunday.

GORT are Galway SHC champions for the first time since 1983 after toppling All-Ireland champions Clarinbridge, 0-17 to 1-12, in front of almost 9,000 Pearse Stadium spectators yesterday.

THIS year's Connacht club SFC final will be a heavyweight clash between Corofin and St Brigid's of Kiltoom after the Galway champions edged out Ballintubber (1-11 to 2-7) while their Roscommon rivals recovered from a poor start to eclipse Tourlestrane by six points, 0-16 to 0-10.

COLM COOPER helped himself to 2-3 while forward colleague Daithí Casey (0-4) put in a man of the match performance as Dr Crokes demolished Waterford champions Ballinacourty by 3-13 to 0-7 in their Munster club SFC quarter-final clash at Dungarvan.

Meanwhile, UCC battled back from a slow start to beat Monaleen after extra-time, 1-19 to 2-15.