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Oulart-The Ballagh already the team to beat in the Wexford Intermediate hurling championship

Ballygarrett the first victims of former Senior kingpins

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Oulart-The Ballagh captain Conor 'Birdie' O'Leary evading Ballygarrett's Seán O'Brien.

Oulart-The Ballagh captain Conor 'Birdie' O'Leary evading Ballygarrett's Seán O'Brien.

Murtha Doyle of Oulart-The Ballagh darting away from Farrell Doyle and Darren Morris.

Murtha Doyle of Oulart-The Ballagh darting away from Farrell Doyle and Darren Morris.

Eddie Redmond of Ballygarrett under pressure from Martin Óg Storey (Oulart-The Ballagh).

Eddie Redmond of Ballygarrett under pressure from Martin Óg Storey (Oulart-The Ballagh).

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Oulart-The Ballagh captain Conor 'Birdie' O'Leary evading Ballygarrett's Seán O'Brien.

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Oulart-The Ballagh 4-22 Ballygarrett 0-8

Oulart-The Ballagh justified their hot favourites tag when eventually piling on a 26-point defeat to Ballygarrett in the opening round of Group B of The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship, with the Enniscorthy District side emerging from a thankfully sunny Bellefield with a 4-22 to 0-8 victory on Sunday.

The 13-time Senior hurling champions actually looked a bit under-cooked in the opening half, when a run of four unanswered points helped them develop a 1-8 to 0-5 daylight at half-time while also hitting seven wides.

However, they really upped the gears in the third quarter, as they outscored the seasiders by 2-7 to 0-2 as their advantage suddenly swelled to 3-15 to 0-7 in the blink of an eye.

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And although they played the final quarter with 14 men, following a straight red card dismissal of Garrett Sinnott, they still managed to add another 1-7 before the end in comparison to a paltry lone point from their outclassed opponents.

In an interesting departure, Ballygarrett posted long-time score merchant Jack Hobbs between the sticks, and he opened the scoring from a long-range free he won 90 seconds in.

Billy Dunne punished an overcarrying offence for Oulart-The Ballagh’s first score on five minutes, but a heavy hit on Seán O’Brien allowed Cormac Moore-Kavanagh to convert another free a minute later.

Oulart-The Ballagh went route one whenever the opportunity allowed, and that direct approach led to their first goal on nine minutes. Goalkeeper Darragh Hayes demonstrated the length he needed to win the recent county Poc Fada competition by launching a long ball towards the square, where Martin Óg Storey was on hand to gather, turn and blast home at the new scoreboard end.

Sinnott and Dunne (free) added a quick brace, with youngster Joe Burke clipping over a point via the post in reply for Ballygarrett.

And while Hobbs added his penultimate free of the game on 17 minutes, that aforementioned purple patch soon arrived for Oulart-The Ballagh, with Declan Buggy (twice), Sinnott and Dunne (’65) doing the needful.

Ballygarrett had one last chance before half-time when Darren Morris was fouled close to goal, with Hobbs making the long trek upfield but blasting his attempt over the bar with the last puck of the half.

And Oulart-The Ballagh’s killer instinct started to emerge on the restart, with Murtha Doyle making space down the pavilion side before firing low past Hobbs.

And Hayes’ power came to the fore again when another long puck-out carried beyond the Ballygarrett full-back line and wily veteran Nicky Kirwan applied the decisive touch to steer the sliothar to the net.

The scores were flowing now for the eventual victors, to the extent that Billy Dunne amassed one point fewer in the second-half alone (seven) than Ballygarrett managed collectively across the whole game.

The only sour note was that dismissal of Sinnott, who caught Hobbs with a mis-timed, neck-high challenge midway through the half.

Nonetheless, substitute Rory Jacob added a point in his first involvement, while recent RTE Ultimate Hell Week competitor, Buggy, powered through to clinically dispatch their fourth goal nine minutes before time.

Tommy Storey became the sixth Oulart-The Ballagh starting forward to find the range, with Dunne successful with a hat-trick of frees before another substitute, Lorcan Nimmo, who looked bright on his introduction, rounded off the scoring for a side striving for an immediate bounce back up to the top tier.

Up next for the losers is a clash against neighbours Buffers Alley in Gorey on Sunday, with Oulart-The Ballagh taking on Taghmon-Camross in Ferns 23 hours earlier.

Oulart-The Ballagh: Darragh Hayes; Anthony Roche, Conor Goff, Billy Dunne (The Ballagh); Kevin Sheridan, Eoin Moore, Niall Redmond; Conor O’Leary (capt.), Declan Buggy (1-2); Billy Dunne (Oulart, 0-10, 7 frees, 1 ’65), Tommy Storey (0-1), Murtha Doyle (1-2); Garrett Sinnott (0-2), Martin Óg Storey (1-2), Nicky Kirwan (1-1). Subs. - Lorcan Nimmo (0-1) for Doyle (41), Rory Jacob (0-1) for Kirwan.

Ballygarrett: Jack Hobbs (0-3 frees); Harry Byrne, Eddie Redmond, Kyle Moore-Kavanagh; Farrell Doyle, Stephen Redmond (capt., 0-2 frees), Tom Sinnott; Seán O’Brien, Darren Morris; Joe Burke (0-1), Cormac Moore-Kavanagh (0-2, 1 free), Shane Quinn; Johnny Sinnott, Alan Cosgrave, Michael Bolger. Subs. - Oisín Dunbar for Bolger (32), Seán Wafer for Cosgrave (38).

Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James’).


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