Slick start helps Oulart overcome Roche red card
Leinster SHC quarter-final: Oulart 2-13 St Rynagh's 0-9
A good start proved a whole lot more than half the battle in Wexford Park yesterday where Oulart-The Ballagh set out their stall early and built upon it impressively with an efficient performance that was far too advanced for St. Rynagh's.
It booked a Leinster semi-final date with Kilkenny champions O'Loughlin Gaels, a test that Oulart will approach quite confidently following this display.
The one downside from yesterday's game was that they will be without wing-back Paul Roche for the semi-final after he was sent off after being shown a straight red card 90 seconds into the second half.
He appeared to pull back on an opponent after the ball had gone, prompting the referee to flash red and leave Oulart with what might have proved a debilitating setback in different circumstances.
However, they led by 1-9 to 0-3 by then, having exploited their wind advantage cleverly in the first half.
St. Rynagh's had deployed a sweeper in an attempt to clog the defensive channels and while it worked quite well in terms of keeping Oulart's goal opportunities to a minimum, the Offaly champions had other problems which they couldn't remedy.
It came down to basics such as touch, timing and passing accuracy, areas where Oulart were vastly superior. Still, with St. Rynagh's defending doggedly, it took Oulart quite some time to make their slicker play register on the scoreboard.
They led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 20 minutes but won the remainder of the half by 1-5 to 0-1, giving them a nine-point interval margin which was unlikely to be wiped out.
Their goal came from Murtha Doyle in the 19th minute after a smooth build up, which was heavy on patience and precision, presented him with the chance to bat the ball past goalkeeper Conor Clancy.
Team captain Garrett Sinnott, Rory Jacob, Des Mythen, David Redmond and Shaun Murphy were all highly influential in steering Oulart into a position that presented St. Rynagh's with a challenge for which they weren't equipped.
Oulart, who lined out without Keith Rossiter and Nicky Kirwan and who lost Eoin Moore after 21 minutes, were determined not to allow St.Rynagh's build up the level of momentum they generated in the Offaly county final, a task they executed extremely well.
Roche's departure so early in the second half gave St. Rynagh's real hope but the extra man proved of no great benefit against such well-structured opposition.
"We're good at holding on to the ball and also tend to play better against the wind," said joint manager Frank Flannery by way of explanation on how Oulart coped so comfortably with being a man down in the second half.
St. Rynagh's cut the deficit to seven points in the 49th minute but needed a goal to really trouble Oulart.
However, the problem for the visitors was that in their desperation to create goal openings, point chances were often ignored. They came close to making the goal breakthrough in the 52nd minute but Ger Scales' drive flew wide and with it went St. Rynagh's hopes of building on their Offaly success in Leinster.
Their misery was compounded late on when sub Martin Og Storey fired home Oulart's second goal.
Big-time experience was a key difference between the sides. Oulart are well seasoned in provincial competition and used that know-how intelligently.
"We started well - we set the tone and we also got our intensity levels up very quickly. Out stickwork was good so we got into the game early.
"We were missing a few lads and that kept us on our toes because we knew we had to be right for this game.
"Rynagh's had won a great championship in Offaly, on top of that we have an awful record against Offaly teams so we had a lot to be wary of," said Flannery.
Flannery explained that Oulart were disappointed with their county final performance, making it all the more important to do well yesterday.
"We're hoping we're coming good at the right time," he said.
There are solid grounds for believing that to be the case, although it must be noted that St. Rynagh's weren't as formidable as they might have been.
The drive and energy which underpinned last month's Offaly final victory over Birr was missing, especially in the final 10 minutes of the first half, during which they suffered most damage.
They needed an early breakthrough in the second half but Oulart scored two of the first three points, further extending their advantage and leaving them with plenty of deposits in the bank, despite having to play almost all of the second half with 14 men.
They saw it through without experiencing much turbulence.
Scorers: Oulart-The Ballagh: R Jacob 0-6 (4f), M Doyle, M Og Storey 1-0 each, D Mythen 0-2, T Storey, D Redmond, P Roche, G Sinnott, P Murphy 0-1 each St.Rynagh's: A Treacy (2f), M Maloney (2f) 0-3 each, J O'Connor 0-2 , G Scales 0-1.
Oulart-THE BALLAGH: C O'Leary; A Roche, D Morton, B Kehoe; P Roche, S Murphy, K Sheridan;D Redmond, E Moore; D Mythen, T Storey, P Murphy; R Jacob, G Sinnott, M Doyle. Subs: M Jacob for Moore, M Og Storey for Doyle (53), B Dunne for Redmond (56), N Redmond for Mythen (59).
St. Rynagh's: C Clancy, D Maloney, D Shortt, B Conneely; C Hernon, A Treacy, S Kenny; R Hughes, G Kelly; P Quirke, S Dolan, J O'Connor; N Wynne, G Rafferty, M Maloney. Subs: G Scales for Rafferty (h-t), N White for M Maloney (51), E Woods for Quirke (54).
Ref: J Keenan (Wicklow)