Friday 23 March 2018

No Oulart gripes as Breen gets Na Piarsaigh over the line

Na Piarsaigh 1-22 Oulart 0-20

Mike Casey of Na Piarsaigh and Oulart’s Nicky Kirwan battle for possession during Saturday’s All-Ireland SHC club semi-final in Thurles. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile
Mike Casey of Na Piarsaigh and Oulart’s Nicky Kirwan battle for possession during Saturday’s All-Ireland SHC club semi-final in Thurles. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile
Cathal King, Na Piarsaigh, in action against Nicky Kirwan, Oulart the Ballagh. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile
Na Piarsaigh's Cathal King tries to keep possession against Nicky Kirwan, left, and Des Mythen of Oulart the Ballagh. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Oulart-the Ballagh manager Frank Flannery refused to apportion any blame following his side's defeat on Saturday.

The Wexford and Leinster champions were foiled by Na Piarsaigh, who march on to their maiden decider, after extra-time in their first All-Ireland semi-final.

A disputed goal before half-time had tongues wagging at a chilly Semple Stadium, with Ronan Lynch appearing to foul the ball before launching a free that David Breen latched onto.

In fairness to match referee Fergal Horgan, it was only a super slow-motion TG4 replay that confirmed the sliotar had moved when the nose of Lynch's hurl stuck in the ground as he attempted to strike, before a second jab-lift.

Breen's goal handed Na Piarsaigh a 1-8 to 0-9 half-time lead, wiping out much of Oulart's good work in the first half.

They had led by three points twice before overturning a two-point deficit to nose ahead approaching the break.

Flannery, now free to concentrate on coaching duties with Cork, insisted that he wasn't getting hung up on the incident, but admitted that going in a point up would have made his half-time team talk easier.

He said: "It hit us hard, that goal. Similar to the Leinster final, we got that goal in the Leinster final, they got it today.

"Ah I think we'll give him the benefit of the doubt, I think it did actually bounce in fairness but look, we had chances for points before that, we didn't take them.


"I thought we were slack starting, David (Redmond) got a knock, I don't know if he's concussed or not.

"He's our key man. We have no excuses, we died with our boots on but at times we went away from the game-plan and that was the end of us. They took their chances better."

Oulart showed real fight, coming from five points down in the second half to force extra-time but Na Piarsaigh, who erased the heartbreak of semi-final defeats in 2012 and 2014, had a kick left in them.

The significance of Na Piarsaigh's win, with 2,566 spectators present, wasn't lost on manager Shane O'Neill, who was still a player when the club fell at the penultimate hurdle in 2012.

He said: "For a city club like ourselves, it was the first time I'd ever heard a roar of 'Na Piarsaigh! Na Piarsaigh!' at half-time of extra-time coming from our supporters.

"It means everything - six coach-loads left the car park this morning but there's no point in getting there and not turning up."

Make no mistake, Na Piarsaigh will have plenty to do against Ruairi Og Cushendall in the St Patrick's Day decider but they will start as favourites nonetheless.

And O'Neill believes that slack periods in games must be eradicated to ensure that captain Cathal King is the man lifting the Tommy Moore Cup at Croke Park.

He explained: "Sometimes the minds wander a small bit which showed for those three points before half-time and then going five up.

"And maybe did we relax again instead of trying to keep going. So that's something that we'll look at. It was a slow start as well."

Ultimately, Na Piarsaigh did enough and it was some of their key men who got them over the line.

Breen has opted out of the Limerick set-up for this year but now fully fit again, the powerful forward showed his worth with a haul of 1-2.

It was a day when marquee attacker Shane Dowling was in and out of the game but Kevin Downes picked up the slack with four points, a haul matched by midfielder Alan Dempsey.

Alongside him in the Na Piarsaigh engine room, Will O'Donoghue produced a display that earned him the man of the match award while inside forwards David Dempsey and precociously talented Peter Casey hit two points each.

Nicky Kirwan was Oulart's leading marksman, hitting eight of his ten points from frees, but Na Piarsaigh won the extra-time battle hands down, outscoring their opponents by 0-9 to 0-4.

O'Neill added: "You could see how much Oulart wanted it but I think maybe our legs and age profile got us through.

"The lads are extremely mentally strong as well, we just regrouped and the boys went at it again."

Scorers - Na Piarsaigh: D Breen 1-2, S Dowling 0-5 (4f), A Dempsey, K Downes 0-4 each, D Dempsey & P Casey 0-2 each, R Lynch (f), W O'Donoghue, A Breen 0-1 each. Oulart-The Ballagh: N Kirwan 0-10 (8fs), D Mythen 0-3, E Moore 0-2 (1f), C O'Leary (f), S Murphy, G Sinnott, T Storey, B Dunne (f) 0-1 each.

Na Piarsaigh - P Kennedy; M Casey, K Breen, K Kennedy; M Foley, R Lynch, C King; A Dempsey, W O'Donoghue; S Dowling, D Breen, K Ryan; K Downes, D Dempsey, P Casey. Sub: A Breen for Ryan (38).

Oulart-the Ballagh - C O'Leary; B Kehoe, K Rossiter, A Roche; K Sheridan, S Murphy, E Moore; D Redmond, M Jacob; T Storey, D Mythen, P Murphy; R Jacob, G Sinnott, N Kirwan. Subs: T Dunne for P Murphy (42), K Nimmo for M Jacob (44), B Dunne for Redmond (52), D Stamp for T Dunne (58), S Doyle for Sinnott (70), Redmond for Mythen (70), D Nolan for Mythen (72).

Ref - F Horgan (Tipperary).

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