OULART-THE BALLAGH 8-26
GUSSERANE O’RAHILLYS 0-9
GUSSERANE’S CRIPPLING casualty list was exploited ruthlessly by merciless Oulart-The Ballagh in Friday’s quarter-final of The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship in Bellefield.
The red and blacks have been sticking out like a sore thumb as favourites to bounce straight back to Senior ranks, and this only emphasised that fact.
However, it demands to be noted that this 41-point victory was achieved against an opposition hugely decimated by injury, continuing to labour without such hugely influential figures as Seán ‘Mini’ Ryan, Mark O’Neill, Sam Wall, John Roche, Jack Culleton, Aaron Whelan and Liam Dillon, while Páraic Conway is abroad.
Oulart-The Ballagh were rampant from as soon as Tommy Storey fashioned two goals inside the first nine minutes before turning provider for Lorcan Nimmo to make it 3-4 to 0-2 after 21 minutes on the way to forging a 5-9 to 0-4 chasm at half-time.
The margin was even five points greater than their 7-28 to 1-10 thumping of Taghmon-Camross in round two of qualifying.
Gusserane’s immense misfortune with injuries saw Shane Power and Tom Breen become the 28th and 29th players pressed into championship action this year, whereas they had only required 19 and 20 players respectively in the past two campaigns.
It didn’t get any better for them here as, although Emmet Cullen was back from injury to pitch up at full-back, he was forced off after only 13 minutes, while they lost Jack Burford to a hand problem at half-time.
Gusserane, opening with the backing of the wind, were typically honest. But they needed to maximise every scoring opportunity, only to drive a bunch of early wides before Mark Rossiter’s ice-breaking pointed free from his own half after seven minutes was dwarfed by Tommy Storey quickly escalating the winners into an extremely commanding position.
The number eleven was Oulart-The Ballagh’s greatest spark in those opening stages, and he latched on to a Lorcan Nimmo delivery to sweep home a ground shot to the scoreboard-end net in the eighth minute.
One minute later Storey blasted open a 2-0 to 0-1 divide after he was left unmarked on the left to collect a Martin Óg Storey pass and burst through to force a save before maximising the rebound.
Storey’s last act before a problematic hamstring strain brought his withdrawal after 21 minutes was to hook Gusserane substitute Mark Kehoe just as the latter seemed to have neutralised a situation, and Nimmo netted for a 3-4 to 0-2 advantage.
The fourth goal arrived one minute later when Billy Dunne picked out Nicky Kirwan and he dodged by two defenders to grab the first of his hat-trick.
He added his second one minute later after being picked out by ‘Ogie’ Storey to generate a 5-4 to 0-2 margin on the way to that interval gap of 5-9 to 0-4.
Kirwan’s third arrived in the 34th minute when he turned over a bad puck-out after Kilkenny native Declan Buggy had pointed (6-12 to 0-5).
Rory Jacob was soon sprung from the bench to help himself to three quickfire points as he became their twelfth scorer – matching their number of contributors in round two against Taghmon-Camross – before Billy Dunne emerged from a ruck close to the town-end goal to lash home on 48 minutes (7-20 to 0-7).
The finest of the goals arrived two minutes later from wing-back Kevin Sheridan – collecting from Jacob and rifling to the top left-hand corner of the net as they routinely set up a semi-final derby against a Buffers Alley side which ran them to within 1-21 to 1-20 only three weeks ago.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Darragh Hayes; Anthony Roche, Barry Kehoe, Conor Goff; Jack Roche (0-1), Eoin Moore (capt., 0-1), Kevin Sheridan (1-3); Billy Dunne (Oulart, 1-4, 0-4 frees), Declan Buggy (0-2); Lorcan Nimmo (1-3), Tommy Storey (2-1), Murtha Doyle (0-1); Martin Óg Storey (0-2), Garrett Sinnott (0-4), Nicky Kirwan (3-0). Subs. – Adam McRedmond for T. Storey, inj. (21), Niall Redmond for Kirwan (41), Rory Jacob (0-4) for Moore (41), Ian Storey for Kehoe (47), Billy Dunne (The Ballagh) for Dunne, inj. (55).
Gusserane: Mark Flynn; Jamie Sheehan, Emmet Cullen, Eoghan Foran; Tommy Ryan, Mark Rossiter (0-5, 3 frees, 1 ’65), Jack Burford; Adrian Redmond, Graeme Cullen (capt.); Gavin Sheehan (0-1), Ciarán Conway (0-2), Kevin O’Donohoe; Micheál Ryan (0-1), Tom Foran, Conor Twomey. Subs. – Mark Kehoe for E. Cullen, inj. (13), Donal Kinsella for Burford, inj. (HT), Shane Power for Kehoe, inj. (39), Tom Breen for O’Donohoe (49), Martin Fitzharris for Twomey (49).
Referee: Dan Crosby (Kilmore).