Alley hold Oulart to claim precious point
Andrew Kenny's sixth successful free in Bellefield on Friday, three minutes into added time, means Buffers Alley's destiny is completely in their own hands heading into the final round of Group B of the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship.
Oulart-Ballagh 3-14 Buffers Alley 1-20
The 20-metre dead ball, awarded by referee Gearáid McGrath after Kenny himself was felled, was enough to tie Oulart-The Ballagh and leave the Monamolin men a point ahead of Ferns St. Aidan's with a game against county champions Shelmaliers still to come.
A victory in that game will see them safely into the last eight, a draw will almost certainly be enough, while a loss may still suffice depending on Ferns' result in their final clash against table-toppers Oulart-The Ballagh.
If the heart and determination show in this game is anything to go by, the Alley men may well not need the help. They contributed equally with their opponents to a clean, exciting game of hurling that was a real treat for the sizeable Enniscorthy crowd.
The first-half was open and produced 20 scores. The most important of those came after just nine minutes when Rory Jacob's ball found its way to Des Mythen and the experienced forward hit the net from tight on the right of goal. It helped Oulart-The Ballagh into a 1-9 to 0-10 interval lead.
The resilience shown by the Gorey District side was remarkable. Their opponents looked to be easing out to a typically classy Oulart-The Ballagh victory when Jacob's second point put them 1-15 to 0-13 in front heading into the final quarter.
However, two goals in under 60 seconds from corner-forward Robert O'Leary turned the tie on its head and set up a rip-roaring final 14 minutes.
The first major was the result of a bundling run that ended with O'Leary somehow squirting the ball over the line, while the second was a powerful pull past his first cousin, Oulart-The Ballagh stopper Conor O'Leary, after an excellent Paul O'Leary pass.
Again Oulart-The Ballagh responded and moved two ahead after a brace from Jacob, as well as David Redmond's third point. Yet the Alley took the lead with four minutes left when Shane Grannell's line ball was recycled by Paul O'Leary to Willie Doran and the former county star smashed to the rigging (3-13 to 1-18).
Oulart-The Ballagh, who are through to the knockouts and need to beat Ferns to secure top spot, scored twice through Jacob to regain the lead but Kenny's sixth free made sure both clubs left Enniscorthy reasonably satisfied with their night's work.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Conor O'Leary; Kevin Nimmo, Keith Rossiter, Barry Kehoe (capt.); Eoin Moore, Shaun Murphy, Kevin Sheridan (0-1); Michael Jacob (0-1), David Redmond (0-3); Des Mythen (1-2), Tommy Storey (0-1), Darren Nolan; Rory Jacob (0-6, 1 free), Peter Sutton, Nicky Kirwan (0-5, 3 frees). Subs. - Paul Roche for Redmond, temp. (32-33), Peter Murphy (0-1) for Nolan (42), Paul Roche for Nimmo (46), Anthony Storey for Sutton (60).
Buffers Alley: Oliver O'Leary; Barry Kenny, Willie Doran (1-0), Seán Murphy; Paudie Reidy, Ciarán Kenny (capt.), Kevin Roche; Pat Kenny, Bobby Kenny; Seán Og Whelan (0-4), Andrew Kenny (0-6 frees), Tomás O'Leary (0-3); Paul O'Leary, Ross Donohoe, Robert O'Leary (2-1). Subs. - Shane Grannell for Donohoe (45), John Farrell for S. Murphy (51).
Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James').