Oulart ease into knockouts
Shamrocks still struggling
Oulart-The-Ballagh became the first side into the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship quarter-finals after a comfortable victory over Shamrocks in Bellefield on Sunday.
Oulart-Ballagh 1-21 Shamrocks 1-9
The deposed 2013 champions have been in superb form getting two wins from their opening encounters but never reached those heights in this clash. The pace was slower then they are used to, which was mostly dictated by their own sluggishness, and they never really broke out and expressed themselves.
On the other hand Shamrocks were their typical industrial selves with plenty of energy and application, but their quality level was simply too far from their opponents to compete, regardless of the high intensity they invariably bring to match day.
Bob Jacob got the game going with a third-minute free and would add two more later in the half for his side's only scores of the period. Oulart-The Ballagh went close to a goal when David Redmond, in typical fashion, burst onto Peter Sutton's pass but his shot whizzed wide.
Nonetheless Nicky Kirwan, Eoin Moore, Sutton and Rory Jacob all had a brace apiece on the board as their side eased away into a 0-8 to 0-1 lead. Oulart-The Ballagh missed again when Sutton flashed millimetres wide of the right-hand post but his side still led by 0-11 to 0-3 at the change-around.
Any slim Shamrocks hopes were eroded within three minutes of the re-start when Shaun Murphy and Tommy Storey combined cutting in from the left and found Redmond who smashed past Daithí Murphy for the opening goal.
Oulart-The Ballagh had stretched their lead to 1-15 to 0-5 when Anthony Wallace's quickly-taken free found its way to Maurice Casey close to goal and the alert Shamrocks attacker pulled powerfully to Conor O'Leary's net.
The Enniscorthy town side continued to chip away and ended up with three fine points from play from the stick of their best attacker, John O'Connor. However, Oulart-The Ballagh finished the stronger as Kirwan brought his tally to six, while Peter Murphy came off the bench to add a pair of classy points.
Shamrocks are looking down the barrel of a relegation final even more clearly now after three consecutive defeats. Their saving grace is that they still have one big chance to beat Ferns and possibly avoid that fate, but even that looks like a long shot.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Conor O'Leary; Kevin Nimmo, Keith Rossiter, Barry Kehoe (capt.); Michael Jacob, Eoin Moore (0-3, 2 frees, 1 '65), Kevin Sheridan; Darren Nolan (0-1), Shaun Murphy; Peter Sutton (0-3), Tommy Storey (0-2), Garrett Sinnott; Nicky Kirwan (0-6, 4 frees), Rory Jacob (0-3), David Redmond (1-1). Sub. - Peter Murphy (0-2) for Sutton (45).
Shamrocks: Daithí Murphy; Barry Dobbs, Mick Weafer (capt.), Philip Freeman; Lar McDonald, Jim Jacob, Emmet Quirke; Bob Jacob (0-6 frees), Ronan Gahan; Jack Moorehouse, Anthony Wallace, Cyril Thorpe; John O'Connor (0-3), Maurice Casey (1-0), George Jacob. Sub. - Aaron Rothwell for Casey (52).
Referee: Brian O'Leary (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).