Oylegate not far from glory
Cuchulainns (Cork)1-7 Oylegate-Glenbrien 1-4
Despite giving Cuchulainns the game they were, no doubt, craving since arriving in the south-east, brave Oylegate-Glenbrien came up just short in their bid to claim the John West Féile na nGael Division 6 hurling Cup in Nowlan Park on Sunday.
Before meeting the Wexford club in the title decider, it had been all too easy for the Cork lads from Kanturk. Only The Rower-Inistioge, in the round-robin games, had been within single digits of them at full-time and even then the contest wasn't in the melting pot coming into the closing stages.
However, as they have proved before, Oylegate-Glenbrien aren't afraid of reputations. They went right for the jugular from the first whistle, battled gamely until the last and can be extremely proud of their efforts against physically imposing opponents.
While the Cork lads had a big edge in size and physicality, Oylegate-Glenbrien had the advantage in hurling ability and that's something that will only stand to them as they continue to develop their skills. They must be the team to beat in the New Ross Standard Under-14 Division 3 hurling championship this summer.
Conal Byrne opened his account in the third minute after Cuchulainns were penalised for fouling the ball. However, their opponents hit back with two dead-balls of their own through Oisín O'Connor to lead by 0-2 to 0-1 after five minutes.
Oylegate-Glenbrien got off the hook when Tommy Walsh drove in on goal but fired wide, but the warnings weren't heeded and just seconds later Grantis Bucinskas clawed in Colin Walsh's long ball and rattled past Conor Murphy.
Unperturbed, Oylegate-Glenbrien responded with a purple patch. Byrne punished a foul on Dara Casey with his second pointed free. Moments later Seán Rowley split the post with a fine score from almost 45 metres out.
When Darragh Harris missed the touch on Rowley's searching ball in the 15th minute, it seemed like a missed opportunity. However, it was merely a sighter for Harris who sent a stunning flick from Casey's long ball to the net to almost lift the roof off the redeveloped stand at Nowlan Park.
The score meant that Oylegate-Glenbrien held an improbable 1-3 to 1-2 lead at the break. Colin Walsh levelled the game moments after the restart but Oylegate-Glenbrien went ahead again thanks to another classy Rowley point.
From that point on Cuchulainns turned the screw and ran out deserving winners. Oylegate-Glenbrien defended superbly for the final ten eleven minutes, conceding just four points, but they struggled to make inroads at the other end as the legs tired after three long days of hurling.
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Conor Murphy; Ned Maher, Adam Roche, Jack Hennessey; Richard Fortune, Cameron Clarke, John Fortune; Ryan Cullen, Andrew Fitzhenry; Mikie Doyle, Dara Casey, Seán Rowley (0-2); Paul Burns, Aaron Quigley, Conal Byrne (0-2 frees). Subs. - Darragh Harris (1-0), Adam Nolan, T.J. Frost, Cian Cullen, Harry Thompson, Graham Curran, Conor Somers, Kyle Curran.
Cuchulainns: Bryan Healy; Gary McAuliffe, Ciarán Vaughan, Seán Moylan; Brandon Hogan, Tommy Walsh (0-1), Darren O'Donoghue; Matthew Hooton, Oisín O'Connor (0-4 frees); Colin Walsh (0-2), Ciarán Carroll (capt.), Luis O'Mahony; Julius Raudys, Grantis Bucinskas (1-0), Jack Sheehan. Subs. - Colum Carroll, Dylan O'Connor, Dylan Kenehan, Diarmuid O'Connor, Ronan Cashman, Jack Quirke.
Referee: Peter Burke (Kilkenny).