Oulart move up the gears

Oulart-The Ballagh 1-22 Naomh Eanna1-12

Dean Goodison

Gorey’s Conor McDonald steals a march on Tommy Storey
Gorey’s Conor McDonald steals a march on Tommy Storey

Oulart-The Ballagh moved a step closer to the knockout stages in the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship with a ten-point Group B victory over Naomh Eanna in Bellefield on Saturday.

The defending champions might not have been fully enamoured with their own performance but there are clear signs that this team is moving up the gears as the season races towards the business end.

They simply had way too much firepower for Gorey. In many ways it was typical Oulart-The Ballagh, as their use of space and overlapping runs was excellent, particularly in the first period, and their half-forward line was dynamic and elusive.

Tommy Storey and Des Mythen combined for nine points between them as they drifted around the '65 and tormented a Naomh Eanna side which really struggled to keep tabs on their classy opponents.

Defensively they remain strong and were able to somewhat curtail the influence of Conor McDonald. Any day the Wexford attacker gets just two points is a good day for an opponent and this was no different.

Oulart-The Ballagh flew into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead courtesy of three Nicky Kirwan scores. Yet Gorey seemed to signal their intent when Eoin Conroy latched on to Lee Kinsella's searching ball, drove in on goal and netted with aplomb.

Aodhán Doyle's point in the 13th minute gave Gorey a 1-3 to 0-5 lead but it was the last time they held an advantage. Oulart-The Ballagh were on a four-point run when Garrett Sinnott plucked a David Redmond ball out of the sky, was dragged all over the place but still managed to crash a shot off the post.

With Mythen, Storey and Kirwan all adding to their overall tally late in the half, Oulart-The Ballagh moved into a deserved 0-14 to 1-6 lead at the change of ends. Redmond hit the post early in the second-half but he didn't have to wait long for his goal.

When the major came it was vintage stuff from the experienced midfielder.

Kirwan and Sinnott did the donkey work in the build-up but it was Redmond's acceleration over a short distance that opened up the Gorey defence and allowed him to fire across goal to Barry Kinsella's net.

Naomh Eanna rallied towards the end of the third quarter. Pádraig Doyle and Gary Molloy picked off a pair of nice points and their side were still within six as the game entered the last ten minutes (1-16 to 1-10).

However, Oulart-The Ballagh usually seem to flick a switch when there's any sniff of danger and, true to form, Anthony Roche popped up for a clinically-taken score and Martin Og Storey came off the bench to make an impact with a brace.

In the end the champions coasted over the finish line to win by ten and in doing so moved themselves into second spot in the table. With games against St. Martin's and Faythe Harriers to come, Naomh Eanna will need at least one win, and possibly more, to make the last eight.

Oulart-The Ballagh: Conor O'Leary; Kevin Sheridan, Keith Rossiter, Paul Roche; Anthony Roche (0-1), Barry Kehoe, Shaun Murphy; David Redmond (1-0), Rory Jacob; Tommy Storey (0-6), Des Mythen (0-3), Peter Murphy (0-1); Billy Dunne (0-1), Garrett Sinnott (0-1), Nicky Kirwan (capt., 0-7, 3 frees, 1 '65). Subs. - Martin Og Storey (0-2) for Dunne (39), Murtha Doyle for P. Murphy (46), Michael Jacob for T. Storey (60+2).

Naomh Eanna: Barry Kinsella; Peter Travers, Brendan Travers (capt.), Eoin Molloy; Seán Doyle, Lee Kinsella (0-1), Gary Molloy (0-1); Aodhán Doyle (0-1), Eoin Conroy (1-1); Conor Hughes, Pádraig Doyle (0-3, 1 free), Darragh Hughes (0-1 '65); Gearóid Cullen (0-1), Conor McDonald (0-2), David O'Brien (0-1). Subs. - Jack Cullen for L. Kinsella, inj. (43), Michael Murphy for G. Cullen (52), Kevin Harrington for C. Hughes (56).

Referee: David O'Leary (Rathnure).

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