Oulart signal intent
Oulart-The Ballagh 1-15 St. Martin's 1-9
It's first blood to Oulart-The Ballagh in 2018 as the two-time All Ireland champions made light work of county champions St. Martin's in the Senior camogie league final in Monamolin on Monday.
Don't be fooled by the scoreline, as six points doesn't do justice to how much better the victors were. Last season's disappointment seems to have lit a fire under the Enniscorthy District club and they look primed for a big season.
The winners were simply better all over the field. The Kehoe twins ran the show in the front third of the field, with a little help from impressive youngster Anais Curran and, in particular, a stellar showing from Siobhán Sinnott.
At the other end of the field the full-back line was dominant. Led by a superme performance from Ciara Storey, the second-last line of defence kept their opposing three to no score from play and even the concession of a late goal was harsh given how the game went.
This was a bit of a rude awakening for the county champions. They didn't fail to compete, they were simply outplayed and over-run and it sets things up nicely for the championship as each of these sides will likely have to go through the other if they want to win the big prize.
The Leacy-less Oulart-The Ballagh made their intentions known from the first whistle. Stacey Kehoe got them on the scoresheet, Ursula Jacob converted three frees, and Shelly Kehoe scored a superb point as they built a 0-5 to 0-1 lead.
Linda Bolger dead-balls just about kept St. Martin's in touch, but Oulart-The Ballagh got the rewards for their superior start when Siobhán Sinnott's line ball found its way to Stacey Kehoe and she soloed through before drilling past Mags D'Arcy to make it 1-5 to 0-2 after 13 minutes.
St. Martin's were a little better in the second quarter but lacked the firepower of their opponents.
Siobhán Sinnott scored from the left side of the field, Anais Curran from the right, as Oulart-The Ballagh eased 1-7 to 0-5 ahead with four minutes to go until half-time.
Anna Hennessy was the first scorer from play for St. Martin's when she popped over from distance in the 27th minute. Bolger followed a minute later but her side still trailed by 1-8 to 0-7 at the change of ends.
The vibes were positive for St. Martin's at the break but the reaction after the re-start was not so energetic. Instead, Oulart-The Ballagh wrapped the game up in the third quarter, outscoring their opponents by 0-5 to nil.
Jacob, Stacey Kehoe and Curran all scored in that spell. Curran was denied twice by D'Arcy in the St. Martin's goal, while Jacob also saw her shot saved after St. Martin's switched off from another Oulart-The Ballagh line ball.
At 1-13 to 0-7 the game was over as a contest. The Piercestown-based side enjoyed a little more of the ball in the final quarter but struggled to create the goal chances they needed.
Sarah O'Connor flashed one effort over off her knees, with Lauren Sinnott getting a slight touch to the rising shot.
St. Martin's were awarded a penalty when Lettie Whelan hit the deck in a crowded goalmouth in the 59th minute.
Karen Atkinson saved O'Connor's shot but the ball bounded out to Linda Bolger and she made no mistake with her low shot through bodies.
Despite thinking they were four down at this stage, St. Martin's were in fact five back and they didn't look like closing it any further. Shelley Kehoe scored her third point right on60 minutes and her side played out injury time without any undue concern to take the league title.
These sides start their Senior championship campaigns at the end of June. St. Martin's will meet Rathnure in the opening round of matches while Oulart-The Ballagh face St. Ibar's/Shelmalier, the first of four group matches each.
The main rivals for the title will then face-off two weeks later, on Tuesday, July 10.
Oulart-The Ballagh: Lauren Sinnott; Ciara Storey, Aideen Brennan, Karen Atkinson; Shauna Sinnott, Louise Sinnott, Katie Murphy; Shelley Kehoe (0-3), Aoife Dunne; Anais Curran (0-2), Ursula Jacob (capt., 0-6 frees), Siobhán Sinnott (0-1); Diane Ryan, Stacey Kehoe (1-3), Brídín Redmond. Subs. - Katie Gallagher for Redmond (46), Katie Roche for Louise Sinnott, inj. (60+3), also Laura Sinnott, Eimear O'Connor, Niamh Dempsey, Niamh Sinnott, Saoirse Dunne, Shauna Redmond, Aoife O'Connor, Sharon Kehoe, Una Leacy.
St. Martin's: Mags D'Arcy; Aishling O'Connor, Marie Claire Morrissey, Lauren Carty; Áine Ennis, Sarah O'Connor (0-1), Alannah Davis; Anna Hennessy (0-1), Katie O'Connor (capt.); Ella O'Connor, Linda Bolger (1-7, 0-6 frees), Chloe Foxe; Amy Ryan, Lettie Whelan, Ciara O'Connor. Subs. - Niamh Dunne for Ennis (36), also Anna Mulligan, Aoife Dempsey, Claire Barrett, Clodagh Walsh, Fiona Esmonde, Ciara Bridges, Amy O'Leary, Amy Cardiff.
Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James').