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Thursday 20 June 2019

Oulart pip Martin's by point

Camogie, Senior League Final in Farmleigh: Oulart-Ballagh 0-15 St Martin's 1-11

The league-winning Oulart-TheBallagh squad
The league-winning Oulart-TheBallagh squad

Substitute Shelley Kehoe stepped up to the plate, drilling home two added-time points to give Oulart-The Ballagh the Senior camogie league title in Farmleigh on Monday of last week.

It was a breathless but fitting end to a fantastic game, the first really good top tier winner-takes-all camogie contest in quite a few seasons.

St. Martin's had led by 1-5 to nil after six minutes, and Oulart-The Ballagh needed all the time that remained to bridge the gap.

Both sides were a few components short of full strength but, rather than hindering the contest, it probably made it.

There was no real pattern to the game, and it was relentless throughout with both teams having their moments in the ascendancy.

While one might argue that a draw would have been a fair result after such a contest, if there was to be a winner, Oulart-The Ballagh deserved to take home the silverware after getting pretty unfortunate with the elements.

St. Martin's had a strong breeze in the opening half and looked to be making the most of it as they blitzed clear.

However, Oulart-The Ballagh worked tirelessly to edge back into it, scoring six first-half points to get within four at the break.

Then, as the second-half got going, the wind dropped considerably. St. Martin's seemed to have managed the period well and were full value for their 1-11 to 0-9 lead when Emma Codd pointed in the 50th minute.

Yet, there was still plenty of heart in the Oulart-The Ballagh challenge.

The Enniscorthy District side looked a little nervy as the Leinster champions blitzed clear. Linda Bolger opened their account in the first minute before Chloe Foxe tripled the lead with a pair of placed-balls.

The Piercestown-based club were stretching the Oulart-The Ballagh defence out of shape in the early stages, and it wasn't much of a surprise when they netted in the fourth minute.

Aideen Brennan may have been fouled in the process of having her handpass intercepted, but play continued.

Aisling Cronin was quick to race at the full-back line, and she probably could have had a smack at goal herself but she chose the prudent option of feeding Lisa Firman. The inside-forward didn't rush the chance and did just enough with her shot to beat Lauren Sinnott.

Bolger and Firman were on target again as the lead swelled to eight. Oulart-The Ballagh needed to break the momentum and managed it with a couple of wides.

Anais Curran was the one picking at the St. Martin's defence in the early exchanges, and her point got them on the board in the eleventh minute.

Miria O'Dowd proved a tricky competitor inside and she was fouled twice in a minute, and both times Ursula Jacob converted to narrow the deficit.

When the former All Star broke out of a huddle with possession in the 18th minute and pointed, her side trailed by 1-5 to 0-4.

Foxe notched her only score from play at the other end, only for Jacob to reply after Curran was felled. When Foxe was fouled in the 30th minute she pointed the resulting free, but Jacob countered almost immediately.

St. Martin's had their first wide in first-half added-time but they still led by 1-7 to 0-6 at the break.

Shelley Kehoe took less than a minute to announce her arrival with a point, and twin Stacey followed with another to close Oulart-The Ballagh within two.

However, St. Martin's scored four of the next five points with Foxe (twice), Bolger and Codd on target.

It wasn't as if Oulart-The Ballagh didn't have their chances in that spell, but they just weren't able to take advantage of them.

Shelley Kehoe had a shot saved by Mags D'Arcy while Curran didn't even get that chance.

Breaking through alone on goal, she was pulled back by a lack of an advantage after Jacob was fouled in the act of feeding her attacking partner.

Jacob did tap over the free but that was to be their only score in a 19-minute window leading into the dramatic fightback.

There was five points in it before Jacob knocked over a 52nd-minute free after Stacey Kehoe was fouled.

Two more dead-balls followed to narrow the gap to two with five minutes left. The momentum was fully with Oulart-The Ballagh now, and Anais Curran slipped her marker, sprinted clear on the right and pointed to make it 1-11 to 0-13 in the 58th minute.

Then Shelley Kehoe took the game by the scruff of the neck. Curran created the equaliser for Kehoe with a fantastic run and handpass, while twin Stacey assisted the winner and Shelley drilled it from distance.

St. Martin's kept fighting but Oulart-The Ballagh came closer to increasing their lead as they beat their Piercestown/Murrintown rivals in the league final for a third year in a row.

These sides will now gear up for the championship, which gets under way on Monday, June 24.

Oulart-The Ballagh: Lauren Sinnott; Aideen Brennan, Ciara Storey, Eimear O'Connor; Aoife Dunne, Mary Leacy, Aoife O'Connor; Stacey Kehoe (0-1), Louise Sinnott; Anais Curran (0-2), Shauna Sinnott (capt.), Siobhán Sinnott; Miria O'Dowd, Ursula Jacob (0-9, 8 frees), Katie Gallagher. Subs. - Shelley Kehoe (0-3) for Siobhán Sinnott (31), Katie Roche for A. O'Connor (48), Laura Sinnott for Gallagher (54), also Leanne Nolan, Katie Murphy, Michaela Hawkins, Rachel Sinnott, Niamh Sinnott, Niamh Dempsey, Saoirse Dunne, Cora Redmond, Ciara Burke, Diane Ryan, Karen Atkinson, Una Leacy.

St. Martin's: Mags D'Arcy; Fiona Esmonde, Marie Claire Morrissey (capt.), Lauren Carty; Áine Ennis, Amy Cardiff, Mary Barrett; Katie O'Connor, Linda Bolger (0-3); Amy O'Leary, Chloe Foxe (0-6, 4 frees, 1 '45), Aisling Cronin; Lisa Firman (1-1), Amy Ryan, Emma Codd (0-1). Subs. - Aoife Dempsey for Ryan (41), Aoife O'Connor for O'Leary (58), also Sarah Hobbert, Clare Barrett, Aisling O'Connor, Ella O'Connor, Ciara O'Connor, Lettie Whelan, Anna Hennessy, Anna Mulligan, Alannah Davis, Sarah O'Connor.

Referee: David O'Leary (Rathnure).

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