Oulart-The Ballagh showed character after 2014 hiccup
Published 29/10/2016 | 00:00
The Pettitt's Senior hurling championship for 2016 threw up some very interesting games, with Oulart-The Ballagh once again emerging as the kingpins in the county.
As one who travelled around the various venues in the county taking in Senior games, I was impressed with many outstanding individual displays from the opening round right through to the county final.
Except for that one hiccup back in 2014 when losing out to Glynn-Barntown, the small parish of Oulart-The Ballagh has been the dominant hurling force.
Much of this can be attributed to their excellent coach, Frank Flannery, who has made such a huge contribution.
However, one had to be impressed with the manner in which the players responded and bounced back following that 2014 shock defeat.
Many felt at the time that this group of players had run their course but Flannery arrived and his backroom team re-grouped, not happy to end their marvellous run in such a manner.
As things stood, 2015 was to be their test. Many questions were being asked but the players responded in the best possible way by regaining their title in impressive fashion.
This year their aim was to put titles back-to-back' which they achieved with some comfort, as they were the superior team in every aspect of the game, lifting the title with a one hundred per cent record.
That is no mean achievement for a group of players who have dominated Model county hurling for so long.
And so to this year's championship. From a club perspective it was heartening to see how Naomh Eanna dealt with their first year in Senior ranks, having won Intermediate last season.
This young team lit up the championship race before eventually bowing out to Oulart-The Ballagh in the quarter-final.
It was a frustrating year for other sides though. Two more town teams, Rapparees and Faythe Harriers, struggled to make a real impact, with the Wexford town side only salvaging their Senior status through a relegation play-off that saw 2000 double champions St. Anne's (Rathangan) make the drop down to Intermediate which they had won in 1999.
Many players were out to atone for disappointments at inter-county level which saw some outstanding individual displays.
It's not easy to single out particular performances, but this is my team of the Senior hurling championship:
Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown); Anthony Roche (Oulart-The Ballagh), Keith Rossiter (Oulart-The Ballagh), Liam Ryan (Rapparees); Shaun Murphy (Oulart-The Ballagh), Colm Kehoe (Cloughbawn), Diarmuid O'Keeffe (St. Anne's); Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers), Michael O'Regan (Glynn-Barntown); Paul Morris (Ferns St. Aidan's), David Redmond (Oulart-The Ballagh), Rory O'Connor (St. Martin's); Garrett Sinnott (Oulart-The Ballagh), Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna), Nicky Kirwan (Oulart-The Ballagh).
Meanwhile, Wexford's abysmal form in the Leinster Club football championships does not seem set for turning, with both Taghmon-Camross and Duffry Rovers eliminated at the first hurdle over the weekend.
Now it's the turn of Gusserane O'Rahilly's in O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, next Sunday.
Let's hope they can turn things around when they take on the highly-rated and more experienced Rhode team from Offaly.
It's not only the players who have stepped up their game, but also the referees who excelled in their respective roles over the weekend.
So it was four out of five for all four I saw in action.
Eddie O'Sullivan took charge of the Shelmaliers v. Gusserane O'Rahilly's Junior hurling final replay, while Dan Crosby had control of the Intermediate 'A' hurling final replay involving St. James' and St. Mogue's (Fethard).
On Saturday evening Aiden O'Brien efficiently controlled the St. Martin's v. Ballyhogue Under-21 football game, although he encountered several problems with players' gumshields.
The focus on Sunday morning was the Enniscorthy Guardian Juvenile hurling Roinn 1 final involving Rathnure and Blackwater where James Flood helped the game to maintain a real momentum with his intelligent whistling.