Ou­lart’s storm flat­tens Rapps

Bat­tling town team beaten

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - BREN­DAN FUR­LONG


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.

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