Oulart advance to Leinster semi final

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Photo from Sportsfile of Oulart’s Kevin Sheridan



By Kevin Egan at O’Moore Park

Oulart-The Ballagh are one step away from making a seventh Leinster club hurling decider after they recorded a four point victory over Clough-Ballacolla at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise on Sunday afternoon, but not even the most ardent supporter of the Wexford champions would argue that they were the superior team from general play in what was a hugely entertaining contest at the Portlaoise venue.

Ultimately it was a hotly disputed goal that helped them over the line against a Laois side that recorded thirteen wides to Oulart’s four over the course of the hour’s hurling, a level of profligacy that was hugely costly.

Any notion that the home side would be rusty after a five week break since winning their domestic championship was blown out of the water in the opening minutes as they sailed into an early four point lead, three of their scores coming from the midfield sector where Stephen “Picky” Maher dropped deep off his wing to pick up clean possessions.

A long range free from Paul Roche got Oulart-The Ballagh off the mark and they were level by the 9th minute when Murtha Doyle found himself clean through on goal with the just the keeper to beat, though there was uproar from the Clough-Ballacolla players and management regarding an incident during the build-up.

As play developed down the left wing of the Oulart-The Ballagh attack, Peter Murphy appeared to get involved in an incident with Lee Cleere on the opposite side of the field. As Cleere lay on the ground, Murphy was able to join the attack and give his side an overlapping player, and he duly fed Doyle for the decisive score.

Murphy was shown a yellow card on the linesman’s advice for his role in the affair, however the goal stood and Clough-Ballacolla’s fast start had been negated. Two excellent points from Maher and Willie Hyland gave the Laois club an 0-8 to 1-4 half time lead and they went into the dressing rooms to the sounds of rapturous applause from their supporters, however a one point cushion was scant reward for their superiority from general play.

They trailed for the first time two minutes after the restart when an immaculate cross-field pass from Doyle picked out Garrett Sinnott, who was pulled down by Tom Delaney after he appeared to hesitate too long in front of goal.

A pinpoint penalty from Rory Jacob left Danny Hanlon with no chance in the Clough-Ballacolla goal, but the underdogs kept their resolve alive and picked off the next two points to draw level. They had their chances to hit the front too, but some poor shooting reprieved the favourites.

Another inch perfect finish to the bottom corner of the net, this time from David Redmond, extended the lead out to five points with twelve minutes remaining, but again Clough-Ballacolla rallied, cutting the gap back to a single goal.

There was plenty of time for the gap to be eroded from points alone and the dominance of the Oulart-The Ballagh full back line suggested that this would be the best approach for the Laois men, but a series of very poor wides gradually sapped their confidence and as the game entered injury time, it fell to substitute Billy Dunne to pick up a loose ball around his own half back line, solo forward and split the uprights for the vital insurance point.


Scorers for Clough-Ballacolla: S Maher 0-7 (4f), W Hyland 0-2, T Delaney 0-1, A Corby 0-1, R Broderick 0-1, R Phelan 0-1

Scorers for Oulart-The Ballagh: R Jacob 1-4 (1-0 pen, 3f), M Doyle 1-0, D Redmond 1-0, D Mythen 0-2, P Roche 0-1 (1f), B Dunne 0-1

CLOUGH-BALLACOLLA: D Hanlon; E Doyle, D Maher, C Coonan; JA Delaney, M McEvoy, L Cleere; R Broderick, T Delaney; S Maher, S Hanlon, W Hyland; A Corby, R Phelan, W Dunphy. Subs: S Bergin for Dunphy (38), B McEvoy for (46), D Bergin for T Delaney (51), M Dunphy for Corby (58).

OULART-THE BALLAGH: C O’Leary; E Moore, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; P Roche, S Murphy, K Sheridan; D Redmond, T Storey; P Murphy, G Sinnott, P Sutton; D Mythen, R Jacob, M Doyle. Subs: D Nolan for Sutton (38), M Jacob for Murphy (43), M Óg Storey for Doyle (46), B Dunne for Nolan (56)

Referee: Peter Burke (Kilkenny)