A hollow victory
Hollow Rovers 2-17 Oulart-The Balllagh 3-10
The under-age season finished on a high as Hollow Rovers fashioned out a high-scoring four-point victory over Oulart-The Ballagh in this Wexford People Minor hurling Roinn 1 shield final in Bree on Saturday.
Hollow Rovers prevailed in the end having looked comfortable midway through the second-half. They had to withstand a late surge from their opponents who were left to rue the concession of so much space to the winners' centre-forward, Diarmuid Doyle.
The county Minor was his side's scorer-in-chief, giving an excellent all-round display while picking off some excellent scores from both general play and frees as he inspired his side to a deserved victory.
This was a game which was by no means an end-of-season affair as both sides served up some excellent passages of hurling. The ability of the respective forward lines to translate their possession into scores proved the real highlight of what was a fitting finale to the Coiste na nOg season.
Hollow Rovers opened with a Cian Fitzhenry point inside 60 seconds, but Oulart-The Ballagh's response was swift as they bounced back in their first real attack, with corner-forward Lee Hore finding the net from close range.
Their lead was shortlived, however, as within two minutes Diarmuid Doyle created time and space to rifle a superb shot across the 'keeper, Lee O'Connor, into the opposite corner of the net, restoring his side's lead.
The teams were deadlocked (1-2 apiece) when Oulart-The Ballagh pounced for their second goal at the end of the opening quarter through Adam McRedmond. Doyle's points during a period of dominance through the second quarter enabled the eventual winners to go in with the minimum lead (1-9 to 2-5) at the interval.
After the sides had exchanged two points apiece through Doyle and Daryl Gray through the opening eight minutes on the resumption, Doyle took this game in a firm grip, hitting over four unanswered points to stretch his side into a 1-15 to 2-7 lead by the end of the third quarter.
While Doyle was picking off some exceptional points, Hollow Rovers looked to have put the game beyond the reach of their opponents when Cian Fitzhenry shot to the net from close in after 47 minutes, increasing the side's lead to eight points.
The game looked to have gone from Oulart-The Ballagh but, with the switching of Billy Dunne from full-back to a midfield role swinging the initiative their way, they managed to finish the game strongly.
Gray fired over two excellent points while an Adam McRedmond goal three minutes from the end left six points separating the sides (2-17 to 3-8).
They continued to press forward in the remaining time, resulting in points from Billy Dunne and Gray, but Hollow Rovers held firm in a tense finish to secure a deserved win.
Hollow Rovers: Mark Quigley; Jamie Roban, Ken Doyle, Alan Doyle; Jack Bates, Mark Morris, Cian Cowman; John Dunne, Seamus Doyle (0-1); Seán McLoughlin, Diarmuid Doyle (1-12, 0-9 frees), Barry Redmond; Cian Fitzhenry (1-4), Jack Foley, Conor Coleman. Subs. - Thomas Lambert for Coleman (20), Conor Hennessy for Redmond (44), Conor Coleman for Foley (47), also Fionn O Muirí.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Lee O'Connor; Liam Roche, Billy Dunne (0-1), Darragh Hayes; Jack Rossiter, Ethan Freeman, Micheál Doyle; Niall Nimmo, Bradley Collier; Chris Lawless, Daryl Gray (0-8, 4 frees), Jim Finn; Adam McRedmond (2-1), Jack Roche, Lee Hore (1-0). Subs. - Robbie Foley for Hore, also Nathan O'Hanlon, John Roche, Daire Swords, Jack Corrigan, David O'Gorman, Lorcan Nimmo, Martin O'Connor.
Referee: David O'Leary (Rathnure).