Oulart sting harriers
OH, this will sting for a long time. This one will really get under the craw of the Faythe Harriers men.
The truth is they dominated this Pettitt's Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final for long spells and should have won, the reality is that Oulart-The Ballagh are champions for a reason. They have the experience that, when the chips are down, they respond with their best.
That best was needed in Bellefield on Saturday afternoon last. Three points down with four minutes remain became two down with two to play after Des Mythen pointed. Then Rory Jacob made the deficit one from a close range free and even at that stage there was a sense of the inevitable.
The source of the leveller might have shocked many with Eoin Moore nailing the equaliser from halfway.
There was no such surprise when Jacob tapped over the winning free to break Harriers hearts two minutes into added-time.
Maybe the Wexford Town side will learn some life lesson from the defeat, maybe they'll learn something that will stand them in good stead for future campaigns, but maybe the biggest winners from this are the three teams left in the championship; a trio of clubs looking the secrets to snatch Oulart's crown.
Faythe Harriers went at Oulart, full of grit, full of fight and boasting an insatiable hunger and drive that their uber-talented, yet lethargic opponents struggled to match. They defended man-to-man, in a traditional formation, with a back six that kept their opponents quiet and with a centre-back, in Lee Chin, who continues to go from strength-to-strength.
Despite all that, they still couldn't dethrone the champions and the reason why probably lies in the first half statistics, when Faythe Harriers played with the breeze but bludgeoned 12 wides to lead by just one.
Level at 0-2 apiece, Oulart hit the front when Shaun Murphy's lineball found its way to Conor O'Leary and the corner-forward forced the ball to the net from close range. Points by Padraig Farrell (2), Rhys Clarke and Jim Berry dragged the 2012 runners-up level (1-3 to 0-6) in the nineteenth minute.
Oulart did edge ahead following points by Murphy and Jacob but the 'Harriers took the lead in at the break when three consecutive points were rounded off by Berry's second score (0-9 to 1-5).
Within minutes of the restart Darren Nolan forced Ian Scallan into a smart save but despite hitting the front soon after Oulart quickly collapsed back into their shell and again let the Pairc Charman side dictate play.
Yet it wasn't until Farrell found Rhys Clarke loitering on the edge of the twenty and the full-forward broke inside to win, and score, a penalty that Faythe Harriers hit the front (1-10 to 1-9).
The goal was the spark to a breathtaking last 10 minutes. Oulart levelled when Garrett Sinnott pointed but three minors in a row from Barry Goff, Clarke and Berry left Faythe Harriers three ahead.
That's when the champions proved their title yet again, turning the screw to take their last four place. Leaving the Wexford Town side to wonder how it all went wrong.
OULART-THE BALLAGH: Ben O'Connor; Paul Roche, Keith Rossiter, Eoin Moore (0-1); Dennis Morton, Darren Stamp, Lar Prendergast; David Redmond, Shaun Murphy (0-2); Aaron Kenny (0-1), Darren Nolan, Des Mythen (0-1); Rory Jacob (0-6, 5 frees), Garrett Sinnott (0-3), Conor O'Leary (1-0). Subs: Peter Murphy for Kenny, Barry Kehoe for Nolan, temp.
FAYTHE HARRIERS: Ian Scallan; Alex Lynch, David Mooney, Brendan Mulligan; Emmet Keeling, Lee Chin, Alan Lynch; Jim Berry (0-3), Nicky Lambert; Rhys Clarke (1-4, 1-0 penalty, 0-3 frees), Barry Goff (0-3), Padraig Farrell (0-2); Paul Lambert, Shane Howard, Ben O'Brien (0-1).
REFEREE: David O'Leary (Rathnure)