Oulart-Ballagh best in Under-21 derby
AFTER A thrilling second 30 minutes, Oulart-The Ballagh eventually went on to an eight-point victory over a spirited Buffers Alley side in this Under-21 hurling Premier championship semi-final at Monamolin on Tuesday last.
This was a game where both sides had their periods of dominance, with Oulart-The Ballagh laying the foundations for their victory during the opening half, a period they controlled, as they looked to have built up a comfortable lead by the interval.
But when least expected, Buffers Alley turned in a tremendous second-half showing that produced three splendidly-executed goals, while it took three brilliant saves from opposing 'keeper Gavin Dunne to deny them as they stormed all over a previously dominant defence. There may have been eight points separating them at the finish, but Oulart-The Ballagh can thank the excellence of Dunne in goal, coupled with Conor O'Leary in midfield, for being able to hold on for victory.
Oulart-The-Ballagh opened impressively, shooting into an early 0-5 to 0-1 lead with points from Niall Redmond, Nicholas Cullen, Adrian Breslin, Conor O'Leary and Martin Og Storey, while Páraic Roche provided the home side's solitary reply in between after an excellent catch.
With Conor O'Leary and Aaron Kenny controlling midfield, they went on to move into a 0-11 to 0-2 lead. They looked to really have put the game beyond Buffers Alley when Nicholas Cullen found the net with an excellent finish just on the break to give his side a 1-11 to 0-2 interval lead.
Andrew Kenny from a long free and Adrian Breslin exchanged early second-half points, before Páraic Roche cut through the defence on a great run before finishing clinically to the corner of the net, reducing the deficit to ten points (1-13 to 1-3) after 33 minutes.
The point-taking of Conor O'Leary was keeping Oulart-The Ballagh out in front but a 36th-minute goal from Lee Murphy inspired the home side, and when Andrew Kenny first-timed a great ground shot to the net having reacted quickest to a breaking ball, suddenly just five points separated the sides (1-14 to 3-3) after 38 minutes.
The excellent goalkeeping of Gavin Dunne managed to keep the rampant Alley attack at bay and this coupled with the excellent point-taking of Conor O'Leary saw the Oulart-The Ballagh boys hold out for a deserved victory.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Gavin Dunne; John Atkinson, Kevin Nimmo, Anthony Roche; Kevin Jordan, Conor Goff, Colin Browne; Conor O'Leary (0-8, 5 frees, 1 '65), Aaron Kenny (0-1 line ball); Niall Redmond (0-1), Nicholas Cullen (1-2), Adrian Breslin (0-2); Martin Og Storey (0-2), Peter Sutton (0-2), Mick O'Dowd (0-1). Sub. - Patrick Stamp for Atkinson.
Buffers Alley: Oliver O'Leary; Tom Dunne, Aaron Redmond, Ross Donohoe; John Farrell, Seán Murphy, Ryan Gleeson; Eoin Whelan, Robert O'Leary; Lee Murphy (1-0), Conor Kenny, Rory Kirwan; Páraic Roche (1-1), Andrew Kenny (1-4, 0-3 frees), John Lee-Meyler. Subs. - Owen Dempsey for Kirwan, Walter Gahan for C. Kenny.
Referee: Damien Donovan (St. John's).
New Ross Standard