Sinnott leads way
Reigning champs brush Ferns aside
The only starting Oulart-The Ballagh forward not to score from play proved that you don't necessarily have to pick off goals and points to make a major impact in the first Pettitt's Senior hurling championship semi-final in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.
Oulart-The Ballagh 4-16 Ferns St. Aidan's 0-17
Physically-imposing team captain Garrett Sinnott had a considerable influence on proceedings as the titleholders marched on to yet another decider with a comfortable and convincing win over a disappointing Ferns St. Aidan's outfit.
Indeed, he provided the assist for all four goals after lining up for the throw-in at right half-forward but then moving closer to the posts immediately to allow Rory Jacob to roam outfield.
The first arrived in the twelfth minute and quelled a positive Ferns start as the underdogs had moved into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead thanks to pointed frees from midfield duo Benny Jordan (two) and Tommy Dwyer, one from play by Paul Morris, and the first of two exquisite line balls from Jonny Dwyer.
All that changed though when Sinnott caught a long delivery and handpassed to Nicky Kirwan who gave Michael Walsh no chance with a stinging shot.
David Redmond, who enjoyed considerable freedom to roam in the midfield area, promptly put Oulart-The Ballagh ahead for the first time with a point and they never looked back (1-3 to 0-5), even though Jonny Dwyer did convert his second line ball - from the right this time after posting the first from the left following a wide from his initial attempt.
Redmond, Kirwan ('65 and free) and Tommy Storey kept the scoreboard ticking over for the champions before Conor O'Leary saved a shot from a tight angle by Ian Byrne who returned from Dubai for the game.
It was understandable that he lacked match sharpness, and the county player didn't have the desired impact for a Ferns side severely lacking in the attacking department. Indeed, just four of their 17 points came from play, with three of those posted long after the game had ceased to be a meaningful contest.
Tommy Dwyer had pulled the deficit back to 1-7 to 0-7 from a placed ball before the underdogs conceded a needless second goal in the 26th minute.
Full-back John Breen seemed to have a Des Mythen delivery under control but defender Pádraig Bolger was correctly penalised for mauling Garrett Sinnott off the ball and impeding his jump, with the defender collecting a yellow card along with Brian O'Neill whose protests were in vain.
Ferns netminder Michael Walsh dared his counterpart, Conor O'Leary, to strike to the Oulart-The Ballagh's man left by standing very close to the other post, and he duly took up the invitation with a strike that was always travelling too fast for Walsh to make up the ground with his dash across the line (2-7 to 0-7).
Benny Jordan did pull back yet another pointed placed ball for Ferns before the break, and it must be a general concern for Oulart-The Ballagh to note that they conceded 20 frees in all compared to a mere seven from their rivals.
One considerable advantage the holders have over all-comers is squad depth, and this was evident once again in the second-half as five players in all entered the fray without unduly upsetting the flow of the team.
A Des Mythen pass set up Rory Jacob for the first point after the break before a hat-trick of Ferns frees from Benny Jordan and Tommy Dwyer (two) left just three between them (2-8 to 0-11).
However, it was a comfortable three and the threat of an all-out Ferns revival never really existed when it was clear that their forwards would be getting no change out of a resolute, composed Oulart-The Ballagh defensive unit.
A pointed Nicky Kirwan free followed before that man Sinnott decided to throw his weight around again in the 36th minute. This time he plucked Eoin Moore's long ball from the air and handpassed quickly to Kirwan who drove his shot high and handsome into the roof of the net (3-9 to 0-11).
The outcome was a foregone conclusion by that stage, with a Peter Murphy point cancelled out by Ferns captain Christopher O'Connor with only their second effort from play in the 42nd minute.
Kirwan, Mythen and Rory Jacob all split the posts before the end of the third quarter, and the fourth Oulart-The Ballagh goal followed after Benny Jordan (free) and O'Connor had posted a couple more Ferns points.
It arrived in the 50th minute when Michael Jacob drove a long ball to Garrett Sinnott who made another catch but was hooked as he pulled the trigger. He still managed to move the ball on to David Redmond who had ghosted into a great position close to goal, and he wasn't going to miss from that distance (4-13 to 0-14).
The last six points were shared, with Redmond, Rory Jacob (free) and substitute Billy Dunne registering for the winners. Benny Jordan managed a good score from distance for Ferns before Tommy and Jonny Dwyer converted late frees, while the latter saw an earlier placed ball well saved in a crowded goalmouth.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Conor O'Leary (1-0 pen.); Anthony Roche, Keith Rossiter, Barry Kehoe; Michael Jacob, Shaun Murphy, Kevin Sheridan; David Redmond (1-3), Eoin Moore; Garrett Sinnott (capt.), Peter Murphy (0-1), Des Mythen (0-2); Rory Jacob (0-3, 1 free), Tommy Storey (0-1), Nicky Kirwan (2-5, 0-3 frees, 0-1 '65). Subs. - Dennis Morton for Sheridan (HT), Billy Dunne (0-1) for Mythen (48), Martin Og Storey for Sinnott (52), Murtha Doyle for Kirwan (55), Ben O'Connor for T. Storey (55).
Ferns St. Aidan's: Michael Walsh; Pádraig Bolger, John Breen, Brian O'Neill; Ryan Nolan, Ciarán Roberts, Declan Byrne; Tommy Dwyer (0-5 frees), Benny Jordan (0-6, 5 frees); Jonny Dwyer (0-3, 2 line balls, 1 free), Paul Morris (0-1), Christopher O'Connor (capt., 0-2); Tomás Hawkins, Derek Thorpe, Ian Byrne. Subs. - Paddy O'Leary for Hawkins (39), Colm Whelan for D. Byrne (53), Edward Walsh for Thorpe (54).
Referee: Niall McDonald (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).