Player awards for Oulart aces
While Oulart-The Ballagh are licking their wounds after AIB All-Ireland Club semi-final exits in hurling and camogie, two of their players had the consolation of collecting provincial player awards recently.
Ciara Storey was honoured at the ceremony hosted in Croke Park where she received the AIB Leinster club camogie player of the year award. Ciara, daughter of 1996 All-Ireland winning captain Martin, followed in his footsteps as she skippered Oulart-The Ballagh to back-to-back Leinster success.
And it was double delight for the red and blacks as another one of their own picked up a provincial club award. Talented midfielder, David Redmond, was nominated as AIB Leinster club hurler of the year following his barnstorming performance against Cuala that gave Oulart-The Ballagh their long-awaited maiden provincial crown.
When Oulart-The Ballagh lost the 2013 Leinster Club hurling final to Mount Leinster Rangers it seemed as though this team had hit its lowest point. They were massive favourites, but instead they crashed to a fourth provincial decider defeat on the bounce.
But, as it turns out, that wasn't quite rock bottom. That was to come the following season.
That was when they failed to win the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship crown for the first time in six years, losing to Glynn-Barntown at the quarter-final stage.
'Well, we played games throughout that season and we generally had a crisis meeting after every game because we knew we weren't going well,' Redmond revealed.
'I remember one particular game we were beaten in and we had a crisis meeting about guys being late and guys doing this and that.'
And when they finally hit the bottom, they realised the only way was up.
'I do remember when we got beaten and we just let the shackles off completely and, like, I think it was October and it was the first time in October that I hadn't hurled,' said Redmond.
'People went off on holidays, people enjoyed themselves and, if anything, it was probably a blessing in disguise that we got beaten. We went off and enjoyed ourselves.
'We went on holidays for the first time and we came back absolutely raring to go. Then we had our meeting and we said that our standards had dropped and it needed to improve. Then, as players, and management, we decided that had to be lifted like never before.'
Standards clearly picked up. In 2015 they won back their Wexford title and later that same year they finally reached the promised land, winning the Leinster title that had eluded them so painfully for so long.
Their recent All-Ireland semi-final loss to Limerick's Na Piarsaigh came just a week after the camogie team lost at the same stage, thus surrendering the crown they claimed last year.
This is a tight-knit club and with 22 brothers and sisters from nine families across the two panels, any defeat hits them hard.
'The camogie team are the standard bearers,' said Redmond, whose sister Stacey won an All-Ireland medal last year.
'My sister's after getting a player of the game in two All-Ireland finals and it's a very close-knit community so I suppose it helps to see them having done it before.
'It was an achievement for both of us to win a Leinster title. We're a seriously small parish and for two teams to do that, it's phenomenal.'