The spirit of Oulart-The Ballagh was once again evident when winning their sixth title in seven years with a comfortable victory over St Martin's in the Pettitt's Wexford Senior Hurling Championship final at Innovate Wexford Park yesterday.
Oulart-The Ballagh's possession game, aided by a solid defence and more penetration in attack, saw them control this game. When they pounced for two first-half goals, the game was as good as over, as they eventually went in with a six-point interval lead.
When they opted to play veteran Rory Jacob in a midfield role, it raised many eyebrows, but he went on to give an excellent display, and along with long-serving full-back Keith Rossiter, they provided the inspiration. Centre-back Shaun Murphy was responsible for some excellent clearances and interceptions at crucial stages of the game.
St Martin's strategy of pulling one of their inside forwards outfield failed to prove of benefit, for it allowed Eoin Moore and Rossiter to dominate in front of goal.
Their over-indulgence in their approach play saw them waste much hard-earned outfield possession, proving a major factor in their second senior final defeat in seven days.
After Dessie Mythen and Ciaran Lyng exchanged points, the eventual winners got in front with a seventh-minute Garreth Sinnott point, a lead they were never subsequently to lose.
Showing a far greater skill level, they led 0-4 to 0-1 when they struck for the opening goal after 17 minutes.
Peter Sutton pulled a high ball from the air before placing inside to the inrushing Nicky Kirwan, who flashed a ground shot into the net.
St Martin's showed some fighting qualities, responding with Paudie Kelly and Joe O'Connor points, but a brilliant Sinnott goal in the 25th minute sent his side in with a 2-6 to 0-6 interval lead.
Three minutes into the restart, St Martin's gave brief hope of a revival, with points from Lyng and sub Stephen Murphy. Kirwan and Jacob responded with points, while in between, St Martin's showed immense spirit as they battled through for points from Stephen Murphy and a Kelly free, leaving the scoreline 2-8 to 0-10, after 35 minutes.
But with Oulart-The Ballagh continuing to enjoy outfield dominance, they went on to add a string of scores as St Martin's struggled up front. In the end, they were worthy and comfortable winners, regaining the title they lost last year.
SCORERS - Oulart-The Ballagh: N Kirwan 1-5 (3f, 1 '65), G Sinnott 1-2, D Mythen 0-3, P Sutton 0-2, D Redmond, R Jacob, M Og Storey 0-1 each. St Martin's: C Lyng 0-5 (1 f), P Kelly 0-3 (3f), S Murphy, J O'Connor 0-2 each, H O'Connor 0-1.
Oulart-the Ballagh - C O'Leary; E Moore, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; K Sheridan, S Murphy, M Jacob; D Redmond, R Jacob; P Murphy, T Storey, D Mythen; G Sinnott, P Sutton, N Kirwan. Subs: T Dunne for Murphy (22); P Roche for M Jacob (36); M Og Storey for Dunne (43); D Nolan for Sutton (58); K Nimmo for T Storey (59).
St Martin's - L White; W Devereux, D Hayes, C Firman; A Maddock, T Waters, P O'Connor; M Maloney, J O'Connor; J Firman, D Waters, H O'Connor; P Kelly, C Lyng, R O'Connor. Subs: S Murphy for Maloney (h-t); J Coleman for H O'Connor (42); S Stafford for J Firman (55).
Ref - P Kehoe (Rathgarogue/Cushinstown).