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Oulart-The Ballagh show Buffers Alley no mercy with second-half scoring burst

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The ball spills loose as Owen McNulty tackles goalscorer Lorcan Nimmo.

The ball spills loose as Owen McNulty tackles goalscorer Lorcan Nimmo.

The ball spills loose as Owen McNulty tackles goalscorer Lorcan Nimmo.

wexfordpeople

Oulart-The Ballagh 1-21 Buffers Alley 0-11

IT ONLY took six second-half minutes for Oulart-The Ballagh to shatter the victory hopes of arch-rivals Buffers Alley in this disappointing semi-final of The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship before a fine crowd in Chadwicks Wexford Park on Saturday.

The pre-match favourites had been kept in check throughout the opening half by the opposition, with the Alley holding a narrow interval lead of 0-8 to 0-7 and harbouring high hopes of causing an upset.

However, those dreams died in double-quick time on the restart, as Oulart-The Ballagh blitzed them with an unanswered 1-6 and it was no contest afterwards.

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Indeed, the losers were restricted to a mere three second-half points with just one – struck by promising youngster Eoin O’Meara when the game was well and truly up in the 53rd minute – arriving from open play.

Oulart-The Ballagh showed immediate intent just 14 seconds after the restart when Nicky Kirwan equalised, and they never looked back after lively substitute Declan Buggy placed Murtha Doyle for the lead point (0-9 to 0-8).

Buggy snapped up a bad Buffers Alley clearance for another score, although the eventual losers were dogged by misfortune in the 35th minute when an Edward Harney run led to a shot from Paul O’Leary that shaved the goalpost.

Just over 30 seconds later they were dealt a bitter blow, as Lorcan Nimmo twisted and turned away from Ciarán Kenny in the left corner before producing an excellent finish for the game’s only goal (1-10 to 0-8).

It was a massive swing as the green flag could have been raised just as easily at the other end beforehand, but that was the signal for Oulart-The Ballagh to completely take over.

Nicky Kirwan made it 1-11 to 0-8 before they could afford the luxury of taking off Shaun Murphy, whose first start of the year was a welcome sight. While a persistent back issue had kept him out for club and county, a calf injury was at the root of his early withdrawal here.

Billy Dunne extended the gap to seven points from a free before the last semblance of hope disappeared for the Alley in the 40th minute.

Ciarán Kenny retaliated after initially winning a free, and Ross Donohoe stood in for the throw-in. However, his pull on Garrett Sinnott was mis-timed, and referee David Jenkins showed him a second yellow card followed by a red as the Alley were reduced to 14.

Billy Dunne also knocked over that free after his first cousin’s early exit, and the outcome was well and truly sorted by the time Alley netminder Darren O’Brien registered their first point of the half from a long-range placed ball in the 43rd minute (1-13 to 0-9).

Oulart-The Ballagh were able to empty the rest of their bench at no loss to the overall dominance of the team, with veteran Rory Jacob (two) and Martin Óg Storey chipping in with points.

Two schools of thought obtained beforehand, with one suggesting that the favourites would be on high alert after the Alley ran them to one point in the group stages.

On the other hand, the argument was made that the outcome in Bellefield would leave the underdogs with absolutely no fear of taking on the side relegated from the top flight last year.

The Alley were also emboldened by that fine showing from their Premier-winning Under-19 side midweek, and Jack Twomey, Edward Harney, Eoin O’Meara, Shamey O’Hagan, Cormac Walsh plus late substitute Michael Butler from that team were all involved here.

Matters unravelled extremely fast for the Monamolin-based side though after a relatively promising first-half, although in hindsight their inability to hammer home territorial advantage and create, let alone finish, even one clear goal chance proved their undoing.

They certainly thundered into proceedings, moving into a 0-4 to 0-1 advantage after five minutes after an early exchange between Paul O’Leary (free) and Billy Dunne preceded points from Eoin O’Meara (two) and Ross Donohoe.

Oulart-The Ballagh didn’t panic, with wing-back Jack Roche on target before Billy Dunne nailed a line ball from the right flank.

Paul O’Leary (free) and Cormac Walsh made it 0-6 to 0-3, with Eoin Moore doing well to flick the ball off the stick of Seán Murphy in between after a strong run by Walsh.

Two frees from Dunne made it a one-point game, but Shamey O’Hagan hit back prior to Oulart-The Ballagh drawing level for the first time thanks to Garrett Sinnott and another Dunne placed ball.

Alley veteran Willie Doran had the last big contribution of the opening half to edge his side into an 0-8 to 0-7 lead, but it was an entirely different story in a one-sided and pedestrian second-half.

Oulart-The Ballagh: Darragh Hayes; Anthony Roche, Conor Goff, Barry Kehoe; Jack Roche (0-1), Eoin Moore, Kevin Sheridan; Billy Dunne (0-10, 8 frees, 1 line ball), Shaun Murphy; Conor O’Leary (capt.), Tommy Storey, Murtha Doyle (0-2); Nicky Kirwan (0-2), Garrett Sinnott (0-1), Lorcan Nimmo (1-0). Subs. – Declan Buggy (0-2) for Storey (HT), Martin Óg Storey (0-1) for Murphy (37), Rory Jacob (0-2) for O’Leary (46), Adam McRedmond for Kirwan (54), Niall Redmond for Doyle (57), Ian Storey for Goff, temp. (60+1-60+3).

Buffers Alley: Darren O’Brien (0-1 free); Jack Twomey, Ciarán Kenny, Kevin Roche; John Farrell, Seán Murphy, Edward Harney; Pat Kenny (capt.), Owen McNulty; Ross Donohoe (0-1), Willie Doran (0-1), Eoin O’Meara (0-4, 1 free); Paul O’Leary (0-2 frees), Shamey O’Hagan (0-1), Cormac Walsh (0-1). Subs. – Liam Walsh for O’Leary (43), David Meleady for McNulty (52), Shane Grannell for Doran (57), Bobby Kenny for C. Kenny (60+2), Michael Butler for Roche (60+2).

Referee: David Jenkins (Gusserane).


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