Hogues singing in the rain
Horrific weather conditions meant that this Enniscorthy District Under-21 football Roinn 1 championship final was never going to be a classic, but holders Ballyhogue thoroughly deserved their victory in St. Patrick's Park on Saturday.
Ballyhogue 2-3 Oylegate-Glenbrien 1-1
It seemed like the victors' profligacy might well come back to haunt them after a wasteful first-half of playing with the storm-force winds at their backs.
Eleven wides smothered just three scores but it was still enough to see them into the relatively warm confines of the dressing-room leading Oylegate-Glenbrien by 1-2 to nil.
Yet, the biggest reason for their victory was how they played against the elements.
While Oylegate-Glenbrien struggled to move possession forward, kicking up swirly punts and misplacing handpasses, Ballyhogue were much sharper and focussed on what they wanted to do.
Very few forward movements were wasted as the champions dominated in defence and moved the ball slickly from silky centre-back Shane Doyle, through the dominant midfield of Syl and Shane Byrne, and into forwards who took enough chances to nab the win.
It took just three minutes of the first-half for Mick Condon to send over a booming point to open the scoring.
The opening period was played almost exclusively at the town end, but the Bree boys struggled to take advantage as Noel Roche clanked an upright in the tenth minute before Condon shot wide.
A moment of inspiration in the 22nd minute saw Syl Byrne haul in an Eddie Mernagh kick-out, drive in on goal, play a one-two with Dylan Dalton and smash an uncompromising shot into the Oylegate-Glenbrien net off the underside of the crossbar.
When Shane Doyle was fouled in the 29th minute, Noel Roche calmly slotted the second point of the half and it was a score that gave his side a 1-2 to nil advantage at the change-around.
Oylegate-Glenbrien probably played their best football just after the re-start but their only score of the third quarter was a Conor Doyle point that was worked well by Barry Dunne and Conor Heffernan in the build-up.
Indeed, their opponents finished the quarter the stronger. Dean Power's pass allowed Conor Byrne to point while the Shanes, Byrne and Doyle, both fizzed shots at goal, the former into the goalkeeper's arms and the latter wide of the post.
However, the pressure did tell in the 43rd minute when Condon and Syl Byrne combined to send Noel Roche away for a thumping second major for Ballyhogue.
The concession of the second goal shook Oylegate-Glenbrien into life and they hit back after Heffernan and Shane Reck combined to find Barry Dunne. The corner-forward was initially knocked off his stride but regained his composure to find the rigging from close range.
Trailing by 2-3 to 1-1, Oylegate-Glenbrien went close to getting right back into the game a minute later when Conor Doyle clunked Darragh Byrne's right post, but that was as close as they came and Ballyhogue comfortably held out thereafter to book a county semi-final spot opposite Wygram Gaels in Taghmon on Sunday.
Ballyhogue: Darragh Byrne; Fionn Rochford, Graham Parker, Cian Rodgers; Peter Doyle, Shane Doyle, Micheál Long; Shane Byrne, Syl Byrne (capt., 1-0); Conor Byrne (0-1), John Kehoe, Mick Condon (0-1); Dean Power, Dylan Dalton Noel Roche (1-1, 0-1 free).
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Eddie Mernagh; Kieran Lambert, John Lambert, Michael Reck; Pa Cullen, Damien Reck, Ciarán O'Brien; Jim White, Shane Reck; Brian Doran, Conor Heffernan, Conor Doyle (0-1); Barry Dunne (1-0), Seamus Casey, Kevin Reck. Sub. - John Reck for Casey, inj. (60+1).
Referee: John Carton (Monageer-Boolavogue).