Oulart poised for a glorious twelfth if forward line clicks
Having attended Taghmon, Bellefield and Glynn-Barntown G.A.A. grounds over the weekend, I must congratulate all the voluntary bodies involved for their wonderful presentation of our games.
Having negotiated the road works on the way into Taghmon I was amazed (although knowing the great G.A.A. people out there I shouldn't have been) at the wonderful organisation and clinical execution of all aspects of the occasion and the ease at which the large crowd entered and exited the ground.
Food, coffee, National Anthem and properly structured presentation of the cup were some of the aspects that made it a hugely enjoyable evening, and the good men and women of the area should be tremendously proud of how their club was showcased on a great occasion for sport.
On Saturday again we had everything from a pipe band to the honouring of the 1975 All-Ireland winning camogie team, and well done to Angela, Ailis, Mary, Barbara and all the team for their wonderful work.
As if inspired by the occasion, both Rathnure and Oulart served up one of the best finals in recent years with Ursula Jacob (who else?) nailing a last-minute free to level and break the hearts of the Blackstairs women in a game which they led all through.
The ferocity of exchanges between the teams was breath-taking, with Evelyn Quigley's girls not reacting nicely to the underdog tag.
Player of the match Louise O'Leary was outstanding with the O'Connor backbone also to the fore, but for me the stand-out performer of the day was young Leanne Foley at wing-back who displayed class in every play.
The Oulart girls are wonderful champions and you can never count them out with the Kehoes, Mary Leacy and Ursula continuing to lead from the front.
Hopefully the replay will carry more of the same with the experience of the black and red having just about enough to shade it.
The only sighting I got of Wexford Park over the past week has been on Billy Roche's excellent drama 'Clean Break' (well done Billy on keeping the town to the fore), but nothing will keep me away on Sunday next for what I expect will be a great game of hurling between, undoubtedly, the two best teams in the county at present.
My gut reaction after the semis was that St. Martin's will be hard to stop but in calm recollection (where did I hear that before?) I now admit to having second thoughts.
The men in maroon are playing a style of hurling synonymous with a young Oulart team of about ten years ago, and from that point it is to a certain extent the old versus the new carrying the same brand.
The last week hasn't been kind to Tomás Codd's men, with the loss of Jack O'Connor out of the vital midfield area a huge blow. Allied to this, losing the Senior football decider to the Jimmies will test the mental strength of this young team and it will be vital to use the defeat as a motivation rather than a blow to confidence.
Oulart on the other hand have re-invented themselves this year and there is an aggression (not in a bad way) and motivation to their game that I haven't seen for a few years.
Keith Rossiter and Co. are very difficult to handle in finals and they bring huge experience to the table.
Rory Jacob, Garrett Sinnott, Nicky Kirwan and Dessie Mythen can be unstoppable on their day but the Martin's backs are the best equipped team in Wexford from a mobility perspective to meet this threat.
Paudie Kelly versus Shaun Murphy will have a huge bearing as will the ability of the Oulart defence (maybe Barry Kehoe) to cope with Ciarán Lyng.
In summation I think the Oulart full-forward line will tip the scales to land their 12th title (now that's a number that rings a bell for some reason!).
Good luck to all.