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Friday 24 May 2019

Oulart show class

Féile na nGael Loch Garman Division 1 hurling final: Oulart-The Ballagh 5-10 St. Anne's 0-2

Páidí Doyle of St. Anne’s is closed down by Dylan Butler
Páidí Doyle of St. Anne’s is closed down by Dylan Butler

Alan Aherne

If the plan is to bridge an 18-year gap, one may as well carry it out in style.

And that was undoubtedly the case in Bellefield on Sunday when Oulart-The Ballagh strode impressively to a commanding 23-point win over St. Anne's in the Féile na nGael Loch Garman Division 1 hurling final, earning the right to represent the county as kingpins at national level for the first time since 2001 in the process.

Páidí Doyle may have soloed through for the Rathangan's side opening point after a mere 54 seconds, but that proved a false dawn.

The same player knocked over a long-range free in the 19th minute but, other than that, this game was all about Oulart-The Ballagh and their lovely brand of hurling.

Their teamwork and unselfishness was incredible at times for such a youthful group, with the handpass used to telling effect to draw opposition players towards the ball and create countless chances.

Outstanding joint captain Simon Roche equalised after that early St. Anne's score from Doyle via a free and, although they had opted to face the wind first after winning the toss, Oulart-The Ballagh still led by 2-4 to 0-2 at half-time.

They never looked back after Roche gave them the lead in the ninth minute, with Peter Wickham adding the third point before good work on the ground by Jason Rossiter was rewarded with a pulled goal from Eoin Mongan.

Wickham registered the second goal after getting on the end of a long-range Dylan Butler free, and joint captain Conor Blake also joined the list of scorers before the interval.

It was all Oulart-The Ballagh on the re-start, with J.D. Masterson widening the gap to nine points before a Jason Rossiter shot, from a clever short Simon Roche free, was well saved on the goal-line.

Nonetheless, that third major quickly followed from Eoin Mongan after a Peter Wickham cross, before Anne's netminder Jack Kelly did very well to deny Jack Dunne at the expense of a '65.

Simon Roche converted that to make it 3-6 to 0-2, and he added further points from a free and from play before his superb vision picked out Peter Wickham for a pulled goal from close range.

There was still time for Roche to add another 1-2 to the victors' tally, picking his spot in the corner of the net after an assist from Frank Gallagher.

Make no mistake about it, this is a team with unlimited potential, and their progress as they move up through the under-age grades will be monitored with interest.

Oulart-The Ballagh: Georgie Kelly; Jake Stamp, Kian O'Connor, Oisín Moore; Ben Harpur, Dylan Butler, Lee Doyle; Jack Dunne, Conor Blake (joint capt., 0-1); Peter Wickham (2-1), Jason Rossiter, Frank Gallagher; Simon Roche (joint capt., 1-7, 0-2 frees, 0-1 '65), Eoin Mongan (2-0), J.D. Masterson (0-1). Subs. (rolling) - Aaron Royce, Kevin Redmond, James O'Leary, Alex Howlin, Matthew Ryan, Daniel Gallagher.

St. Anne's: Jack Kelly; Joe Cunningham, Robert Moore, Páidí Power; Jack Martin, Shane Ryan, Conor Stone-Walsh; Bobby Reville, Ciarán Doyle; Aidan Brennan, Páidí Doyle (0-2, 1 free), Justin McMahon; David McDonagh, Kevin Byrne, Darragh Jones. Subs. (rolling) - Cian Walsh, Owen Browne, Ronan George, Calum Kirwan, Daragh O'Brien, Nathan O'Brien (capt.), Seán Feehan, Matthew Byrne.

Referee: Matty Kinnaird (Rapparees).

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