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First blood to Oulart

OULART-THE BALLAGH 5-8 CLOUGHBAWN 0-7

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Billy Dunne (Oulart-The Ballagh) and Liam Flood (Cloughbawn)

Billy Dunne (Oulart-The Ballagh) and Liam Flood (Cloughbawn)

Billy Dunne (Oulart-The Ballagh) and Liam Flood (Cloughbawn)

Manager Liam Dunne produced a new-look side, but it was still good enough to fire Oulart-The Ballagh to a comfortable 16-point victory against a disappointing Cloughbawn outfit in this EEW All-County Hurling League Division 1 opener played in a rain-lashed Oulart on Wednesday.

The strong wind, coupled with the lengthy heavy showers, combined to deny spectators - who were grateful for the newly-constructed stand - a good quality of hurling.

Credit, though, to both sets of players who somehow found the stamina to play out the full 60 minutes in what were terrible conditions.

It did little for the game of hurling as both sides struggled to put passages of combined play together in the circumstances.

That effort can be seen in the final scoreline, particularly in the low points tally, as the players found real difficulty in grasping the hurl in bitterly cold and wet conditions.

This in itself made point-taking almost impossible either from play or frees, with the result that goals were always going to separate the sides in the end.

Dunne, back for his second successive season in charge, had few of the more experienced players on view, but those who lined out showed real resilience in the conditions as they set about dismantling the Cloughbawn challenge from an early stage.

They managed to reel off some important scores which was in stark contrast to their opponents, who showed little penetration up front, so following the hour it was no real surprise to see the home side well out in front.

Cloughbawn, though short many regulars, will still be disappointed with their display, as over the entire 60 minutes they struggled.

They conceded some sloppy goals which made their struggle all the greater while, in attack, they never threatened Darragh Hayes in the home goal, with the young netminder's evening spent dealing with long, speculative efforts into the goalmouth.

The opening seven minutes produced just two scores, with Colm Kehoe and Billy Dunne exchanging pointed frees, while after 13 minutes wind-aided Cloughbawn had their second score - a Paddy Whitty point.

But from that stage on, the home side galvanised their effort through points from Billy Dunne (free) and Peter Sutton, before Dunne on 18 minutes pounced on a breaking ball to the right of goal to fire low to the net, giving his side a 1-3 to 0-2 lead.

Cloughbawn made a spirited effort before the break, responding with points from Eanna Doyle and Liam Flood.

However, when the eventual winners pounced for a Cormac Finn goal just on the interval, the result became a foregone conclusion, as they went in with a 2-3 to 0-4 lead, turning over with the elements in their favour.

The second-half was just two minutes old when Billy Dunne got on the end of a move to smash a low shot to the net, while he followed up almost immediately with a pointed free.

The defining score came in the 41st minute when Cloughbawn - after a period of pressure - failed to register a score.

In contrast at the opposite end, substitute Tommy Storey fastened onto a crossfield ball to beat 'keeper Seán Keating from an acute angle, giving his side a 4-5 to 0-4 lead.

Cloughbawn were never able to impose themselves on the game, and a fine individual goal from Martin Og Storey capped a promising display from this young Oulart-The Ballagh side, although greater tests lie ahead for both whenever the games resume.

Oulart-The Ballagh: Darragh Hayes; Anthony Roche, Nicholas Cullen, Kevin Nimmo; Niall Redmond, Conor Goff, Eoin Moore; Billy Dunne (The Ballagh), Tomás Dunne; Garrett Sinnott (0-1), Peter Sutton (0-1), Conor O'Leary; Cormac Finn (1-0), Martin Og Storey (1-1), Billy Dunne (Oulart, 2-4, 0-3 frees). Subs. - Cathal Kenny for Moore, inj. (15), Tommy Storey (1-1) for T. Dunne (HT), Nicky Kirwan for Dunne, The Ballagh (45), Adam McRedmond for Sinnott (48), Jim Finn for Finn (50).

Cloughbawn: Seán Keating; James Dempsey, Barry Kehoe, David Doyle-Murphy; Shane Kehoe, Colm Kehoe (0-1 free), Johnny Cullen; Alan Carton, Páidí Cullen; Liam Flood (0-1), Eanna Doyle (0-1), Jack Fleming (0-1); Paddy Whitty (0-1 free), Paul Foley (0-1 free), Bob Whitty (0-1). Subs. - Thomas Foley for B. Whitty (HT), Cathal Spratt for P. Whitty (50), Davin Murphy for Flood (55).

Referee: Damien Donovan (Volunteers).

Gorey Guardian