Oulart’s storm flattens Rapps
Battling town team beaten
OULART-BALLAGH RAPPAREES 4-20 2-16
THE TAG of favourites is sitting easily on Oulart-The Ballagh as they turned in a storming second-half display which proved too hot for a battling Rapparees outfit in this exciting Pettitt’s Senior hurling championship Group B game in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
Having led by seven points after a torrid opening 30 minutes, it was while playing into the breeze that the reigning champions lived up to their reputation as they showed their familiar class which we have seen for a long time at this level.
They held off what was a stern challenge for a lengthy spell from Rapparees, and when it really mattered the title-holders responded with scores when most needed as they put the final nails in the coffin.
Rapparees responded to the challenge being laid down by their opponents. In truth, it was the most heart-warming display seen from the Cathedral town side for some time.
They matched their opponents for lengthy periods with some skilful hurling, but in defence they struggled to contain them.
The physical power of Oulart-The Ballagh to go along with some skilful finishing proved their undoing.
The holders have been at this level longer and it showed. They brought their game to another level with their cohesiveness showing at crucial stages, particularly when Rapparees stormed back into contention.
The eventual winners duly swept back down the pitch to pick off crucial scores with what appeared such ease that they have once again emerged as the side to beat in this year’s championship.
Rapparees stepped up to the challenge in the opening quarter, at the end of which they led by 0-5 to 0-3, and this after Darragh Pepper had pointed them in front inside 30 seconds of the start. Two Nicky Kirwan points (free and ‘65) saw the title-holders surge back, while after six minutes a fine Des Mythen point from way out on the sideline gave them a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.
Much was being made of this start as many even at this stage expected it to set the tone, but the Rapparees had other ideas. They responed with four unanswered points through Liam Ryan, again playing in the unfamiliar position of centre-forward, Tomás Mahon (free), Ryan Mahon and Kevin Ryan to lead by 0-5 to 0-3.
Points from a Kirwan free and Garrett Sinnott had the sides level, but with the teams still deadlocked (0-7 each) nine minutes before the break, Oulart-The Ballagh took on the challenge with a goal from Nicky Kirwan who ran onto a Peter Murphy lob over the defence to shoot home first time from an acute angle.
Then came a storming move from deep in defence two minutes before the break, resulting in Martin Og Storey laying off to the advancing Eoin Moore who finished superbly with a low shot to the corner of the net, a score that helped his side to an eventual 2-11 to 0-10 interval lead.
Within three minutes of the restart Tomás Mahon had powered over three pointed frees, with Nicky Kirwan responding with a free in between.
By the 50th minute points from Pepper and Mahon (free) left four separating the sides.
One minute later Liam Ryan was brought down as he drove at the opposing defence, leaving Tomás Mahon to drill home a superbly-struck penalty to leave the minimum separating the sides (2-13 to 1-15).
The reigning champions now realised they had a battle on hand but they responded straight from the puck-out with a Mythen point. Even if the pressure was there, it was their experience which shone through, particularly after Martin Og Storey - who was proving a real handful after his switch to full-forward - laid a ball off to Garrett Sinnott who applied a superb finish, giving his side the comfort of a 3-14 to 1-15 lead 13 minutes into the second-half.
But the Rapps’ desire could never be questioned as they kept on battling, getting their reward eleven minutes from the end when the impressive Jack Kelly sent a huge clearance to the edge of the square where Tomás Mahon managed to flick overhead to the net, leaving it 3-16 to 2-15.
Oulart-The Ballagh quickly cut out the threat, putting in a storming finish which brought a late goal from Kirwan to kill off the Rapparees challenge in a really good contest and an exciting game of hurling.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Conor O’Leary; Anthony Roche, Keith Rossiter, Barry Kehoe; Eoin Moore (1-1), Shaun Murphy, Kevin Sheridan; Rory Jacob (0-2), Tommy Storey; Des Mythen (0-4), David Redmond (0-2), Peter Murphy; Martin Og Storey (0-1), Garrett Sinnott (1-1), Nicky Kirwan (2-8, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ‘65). Subs. - Billy Dunne (0-1) for P. Murphy, Michael Jacob for Moore, Murtha Doyle for Redmond.
Rapparees: Eamonn Furlong; Mel Doyle, Tom Wall, Dillon Redmond; Jack Kelly, Ben Edwards, James Peare; Kevin Foley, Anthony Roche; Richie Farrell (0-1), Liam Ryan (0-1), Kevin Ryan (0-2); Ryan Mahon (0-1), Tomás Mahon (2-8, 0-8 frees, 1-0 pen.), Darragh Pepper (0-2). Subs. - Eoin Quigley for Doyle, Brendan Kearney (0-1) for Roche.
Referee: David O’Leary (Rathnure).
Tommy Storey is outnumbered by Rapparees trio Anthony Roche, Richie Farrell and Kevin Foley.