Vincent Hogan: Sinnott punishes St Martin's lack of ambition
St Martin's 0-6
Quite what the Wexford heroes of 1960 -- presented to a tranquilised crowd at half-time -- made of this county final is, perhaps, best left to the imagination.
Safe to say, though, it didn't make them tingle. For Oulart The Ballagh retained their crown in front of maybe 6,000 people despite spilling 17 wides and losing their centre-back Darren Stamp to a bad hand injury almost before the band had put their instruments in their cases.
St Martin's, the 2008 champions, looked so hell-bent on containment that they all but neglected to hurl here. Paidi Kelly's beautiful fourth-minute opening point would be their only score of the first half and, indeed, their only return from play from eight forwards used over the hour.
It made for a turgid contest, one that for a long period looked destined to prove one of the lowest-scoring county finals in Wexford's history.
Red-hot favourites Oulart led 0-4 to 0-1 at the mid-point and really only pulled away for their eighth title in the closing quarter, just as smelling salts were about to be passed among the crowd.
Stamp, who left with a suspected double fracture of the hand after what looked an accidental clash with Daithi Waters after 12 minutes, was in no doubt as to the genesis of the stalemate.
"T'was a poor game of hurling," he said, ice dripping from a bandage on his right hand. "There was one team trying to kill the game. They came at us two years ago and gave us a lesson. But they sat back today and it was just kind of horrendous to watch. Even from an Oulart point of view.
"We don't want to be handed county titles every year, but teams sitting back like that aren't going to win anything."
Oulart had already spilled three wides before Kelly was first to engage the scoreboard operator. And though the favourites led 0-3 to 0-1 after 12 minutes, they had goalkeeper Ben O'Connor to thank for a miraculous save from Kelly, as play continued with Stamp lying in agony on the ground.
Defences were on top at both ends, deliveries generally proving of the high and hanging variety that so discommodes and vexes knacky forwards.
Approaching half-time, Oulart mined a rare goal-scoring opportunity when David Redmond torqued behind the St Martin's defence onto a sublime Nicky Kirwan hand-pass, but the sliotar mocked his efforts to lift and the maroon cavalry quickly devoured him.
Liam Dunne switched Garrett Sinnott to the edge of the 'square' for the resumption and the move reaped an almost immediate dividend. For, just four minutes later, Kirwan swept in from the left wing and when his shot was parried by Mark Butler, Sinnott pulled first time to score the game's only goal. Thereafter, St. Martin's policy of containment looked redundant.
They needed at least one goal to change the course of the game and, with this in mind, dispatched Diarmuid 'Gizzy' Lyng to the edge of the 'square'. As it happened, they might as well have put Clark Kent inside, such was the poverty of ball escaping the scrutiny of Oulart's impressive half-backs. Indeed any that did go in was instantly taken under the care of man-of-the-match Keith Rossiter.
Team captain Redmond came storming into the game at midfield too and Shaun Murphy located enough freedom to start sniping points from wing-forward.
St Martin's better performers were almost all in defence, where the likes of Ken Furlong, Tomas Waters and John Coleman couldn't really be faulted. Just a pity that, as a team, they didn't bristle with more ambition.
None of that will matter to Oulart or their management, mind. Freed of the county shackles, they look a team equipped to push deeper into the hurling season now and, who knows, maybe evoke some of the kind of pride that those great men of 1960 were remembered for yesterday.
Stamp will almost certainly miss their first-round game in Leinster three weeks from now, but he wasn't inclined to rail against the deities. "This isn't about 15 players, it's about 25," he said. "I think this team is capable of winning Leinster, which wouldn't just do Oulart good but it would do Wexford a lot of good too."
As a pale sun set in the South East, it sounded a prayer worth clinging to.
SCORERS -- Oulart: N Kirwan 0-4 (0-3 f), S Murphy, R Jacob 0-3 each, G Sinnott 1-0, D Redmond 0-2, P Roche, S Doyle 0-1 each. St. Martin's: B Lambert 0-3 (0-3f), T Waters, J Coleman, P Kelly 0-1 each.
OULART -- B O'Connor; J Roche, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; P Roche, D Stamp, L Prendergast; M Jacob, D Redmond; D Nolan, G Sinnott, S Murphy; R Jacob D Mythen, N Kirwan. Subs: E Moore for Stamp (12), S Doyle for Mythen (40).
ST MARTIN'S -- M Butler; C Power, K Furlong, D Hayes; W Devereux, T Waters, J Coleman; E Quigley, D Lyng; J Boggan, D Waters, J McDonald; M Maloney, B Lambert, P Kelly. Subs: R Devereux for Maloney (43), R McCarthy for Boggan (50), D O'Mahony for McDonald (60).
Ref -- S O'Shea (Blackwater).
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