Oulart-The Ballagh 2-5 Shelmaliers 2-3
Oulart-The Ballagh had to call upon all of their mental fortitude when claiming a 2-5 to 2-3 victory over Shelmaliers in the Red Shield final of the Martin Storey Under-15 festival of hurling on home soil on Sunday.
In fact, such was the scenario that the home side saw themselves in that they faced down a 1-1 to no score margin at half-time, although the gap would have been bigger but for the reflexes of their goalkeeper, Cian McCormack, who denied Shelmaliers a couple of times.
Jim Finn had got the locals up and running with a point from play a minute in, but Shelmaliers proceeded to pen Oulart-The Ballagh into their own half without really making their dominance show on the scoreboard.
A fine lift and strike score from Aodhán Byrne opened the Over The Water side's account on six minutes before a shot at the posts from Adam O'Leary deceived everyone and dipped into the net for a 1-1 to nil advantage.
McCormack was then sprung into action when diving to divert Darragh O'Leary's attempt clear, while he also produced an excellent save to get down low on Barry Cloake's shot.
His opposite number, Jack Redmond, displayed his shot-stopping capibilites by denying Jack Corrigan before the break, but Oulart-The Ballagh began to motor when play resumed.
They were level by the 28th minute when a cross from Corrigan teed up Pierce Redmond for a neat finish, while Jim Finn powered through for a fine individual goal on 33 minutes (2-3 to 1-2).
Ryan Kielthy replied when his shot skimmed off the surface and bounced to the net on 40 minutes, and although Aaron O'Neill knocked over a free to restore parity a minute later, Oulart-The Ballagh were unpeturbed by their rivals' revival and instead timed their run down the home straight to perfection.
Midfielder Aaron Doyle sparked the victory march with an awe-inspiring point after running through the heart of the defence, while Finn sealed the deal with a converted a free a minute from time.
It was a rather fitting victory for the black and reds considering the spoils on offer, and on this basis the future looks bright for one of Wexford's hurling hotbeds.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Cian McCormack; Dylan O'Gorman, Jake Cox, Nathan Browne; Dan Nolan, Chris Lawless, Aaron Byrne (capt.); Lorcan Nimmo, Aaron Doyle (0-1); Declan Sinnott, Jim Finn (1-3, 0-2 frees), Edward O'Dowd (0-1); Jack Corrigan, Dean McDonald, Pierce Redmond (1-0). Subs. - Bertie Finn for McDonald, also Simon Roche, Stephen Davitt, Michael O'Brien, Seamus Ormonde, Oisín Dunne, Gerard Kennedy, Eanna Swords, John Lyndon.
Shelmaliers: Jack Redmond; Seán Og Flanagan, Adam O'Leary (1-0), Seán Cullen; Mark Scallan, Paul Hearne, Robbie Donnelly; Tiarnan Malone, Aodhán Byrne (0-1); Aaron Kinsella, Barry Cloake, Dylan O'Neill (0-2 frees); Ryan Kielthy (1-0), Darren O'Leary, Oisín Furlong. Subs. - Cian Doyle for Furlong, Davy Doyle for Donnelly, Cathal Harding for Kinsella, Michael Connors for Kielthy, Scott Dempsey for D. Doyle, also Luke Roche; Conor Roche, Eoin McCarthy, Corey Lawlor.
Referee: Dickie Murphy (Rapparees).