Wednesday 23 October 2019

Tom Dempsey's hurling analysis

There has been a steely resolve about Oulart-The Ballagh since the quarter-final stage of the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship and, having seen a continuation of this on Sunday, I feel if they can negotiate next weekend's tricky Laois assignment 'Leinster should beware'.

Boss Frank Flannery is not afraid to make the imaginative calls either, and the citing of Rory Jacob in the centre of the park would certainly not have been second guessed by anybody present, with the veteran having a major influence as the game progressed.

His opposite number from early on, Joe O'Connor, it must be said was one of the Martin's top performers, landing a couple of points, and there is huge consolation for this Martin's outfit in that four of their starters are under the age of 18.

There are no 'gimmes' to use a golfing term in sport, but given the age profile of Tomás Codd's charges there is a strong possibility that the Bob Bowe Cup will carry maroon ribbons in the next couple of years.

Although victory always looked likely for Barry Kehoe's men, the standard of hurling was good throughout with the first-half showing a marked contrast in ability to finish chances exemplified by Nicky Kirwan and Garrett Sinnott's excellent goals. These goals were really what separated the teams all through and, despite a strong Martin's surge in the third quarter, there was never huge doubt as to the outcome.

Oulart combined excellently as a unit with Keith Rossiter and Shaun Murphy controlling things in the centre, and the seamless integration of the hard-working Tommy Storey, Kevin Sheridan and Peter Sutton seems to have re-energised this group of players.

Goalkeeper Conor O'Leary deserves mention also as he has been safe and assured all year, and should come under consideration for the Wexford panel over the next few months.

Whilst on the inter-county subject, Ciarán Lyng was the one Martin's attacker that consistently troubled the Oulart defence. He exuded class all through and one of his points off the hurl in the first-half was D.J. Carey-like and gave further indication of an ability to hurl at the highest level. Can the body cope with dual status (probably not), but what a pity.

The introduction of Stephen Murphy in the second-half had the desired effect with two points quickly following, but Oulart's strength-in-depth came to the fore with the introduction of none other than Paul Roche (what a servant to his club), and this coincided with a five points without reply purple patch which ensured that the cup was only travelling in one direction.

So the old order is restored and there was great sense of satisfaction amongst black and red followers on the pitch after the game. A number of their players had secured their ninth county medal which is a remarkable achievement. When the dust settles the Martin's will be pleased with their year, surely appreciating that their story is only beginning to unfold. It's up to the rest to follow.

Well done to referee Pat Kehoe who gave an excellent performance in the middle doing a thankless job.

I ventured to Oylegate on Sunday morning to see the ladies of Rathnure and Oulart finally settle their differences. If the drawn game was the best seen this year, the replay was the second best with the camogie being of the highest order.

Rathnure had their chances but Oulart, led majestically by Mary Leacy, fully deserved their title. The intensity of the exchanges enthralled the huge crowd, with the result in doubt right up to Ursula Jacob's final point. There is no doubt we have the talent to make a serious bid for the O'Duffy Cup again next year.

Finally, I was saddened to hear of the passing of the great Gael Michael Kenny over the weekend. A true servant to the G.A.A. and the Craanford club, he will be sadly missed. My sincere sympathies to the Kenny family. May he rest in peace.

Wexford People

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