Jacob turns the tide to ensure Oulart pick up another crown
Oulart-the Ballagh 2-12 Faythe Harriers 0-13
RORY JACOB's goal early in the second half inspired Oulart-The Ballagh to a fourth consecutive title at the expense of a battling Faythe Harriers at Wexford Park.
When Faythe went in trailing by just a point at the break, and then restored parity within seconds of the restart, it looked as if they were about to cause an upset.
But Oulart-The Ballagh then struck for the game's crucial score. Jacob, who had been kept quiet up to then, exploded into the game, collecting a long delivery, rounding two defenders and sending an unstoppable shot beyond 'keeper Ian Scallan to give his side a three-point cushion from which they never looked back.
While the respective attacks had their moments in the opening exchanges, the defences were generally on top.
Richie Kehoe was a commanding presence in the centre of Faythe's defence, while Keith Rossiter had an inspirational game for the reigning champions.
The sides were deadlocked on 0-2 each at the end of the opening quarter, but Oulart-The Ballagh then struck four points on the trot through David Redmond, Garrett Sinnott, Nicky Kirwan (free) and Jacob. Faythe kept on battling, hitting the final three points of the half through Colin Keeling, Paul Lambert and a Jim Berry free, but they still trailed by 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval.
Berry pointed the sides level within seconds of the restart, but Oulart launched an attack straight from the puck-out and Jacob brilliantly found the net.
The sides continued to trade points but with sub Paul Roche stifling Kehoe, Kirwan's 48th-minute goal sent Oulart six points clear.
While Faythe continued to take the game to their opponents, their lack of penetration in the full-forward line came back to haunt them.
They desperately needed a goal if they were to seriously contend for ultimate honours, but it never looked like materialising as the game progressed.
Faythe were unable to make an impression on the eventual winners' full-back line, where Keith Rossiter gave an exhibition of hurling, producing timely interceptions and huge clearances that broke the hearts of the opposing attack.
Although the Harriers notched some fine points thanks to one of their better players, Kevin Gore in midfield, not even the fine outfield hurling of Kehoe and Lee Chin could inspire a late rally, as Jacob, Kirwan and David Redmond picked off the points to keep their side comfortably in front.
As the game moved towards the finish, the Harriers were awarded a free within range, but to add to their frustrations, the line blocked the ball before clearing to safety, leaving Oulart worthy champions for a fourth consecutive year before an attendance of 5,300.
Scorers -- Oulart-The Ballagh: N Kirwan (2f), R Jacob 1-3 each, D Redmond 0-3, G Sinnott, D Mythen, P Murphy 0-1 each. Faythe Harriers: K Gore 0-5, J Berry 0-3 (2f), R Clarke 0-2 (1f), C Keeling, W Mallon, P Lambert 0-1 each.
Oulart the-Ballagh -- B O'Connor; D Morton, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; C Goff, D Stamp, L Prendergast; D Redmond, E Moore; G Sinnott, F Cullen, D Mythen; R Jacob, P Murphy, N Kirwan. Subs: P Roche for Cullen, M Jacob for Moore, S Murphy for P Murphy.
Faythe Harriers -- I Scallan; B Mulligan, D Mooney, A Lynch; C Keeling, R Kehoe, L Chin; J Berry, K Gore; W Mallon, S Howard, C Heffernan; P Lambert, P Farrell, R Clarke. Subs: M Campbell for Farrell, K Murphy for Howard.
Ref -- N McDonald (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).