Third time unlucky for Oulart as Kilcormac power home
LEINSTER CLUB SHC FINAL: Kilcormac-Killoughey 1-12 Oulart-The-Ballagh 0-11:If the Leinster club hurling championship is karma, it’s hard to conceive of what Oulart got up to in previous lives.
Yesterday’s third straight defeat in a provincial final left the Wexford champions again bitterly disappointed at both the loss and the failure once more to locate their ‘A’ game on the big occasion.
Their Offaly opponents provided the counterpoint, having won a first county title in over 100 years and made hesitant progress to the final, by giving their best display of the championship and controlling the match from start to finish.
Whatever about Oulart needing a good start to settle themselves, the thing they did not need was Kilcormac to hit the ground running, triggering the nagging voices inside their heads and turbo-charging the self-belief of the rank outsiders.
From the throw-in there looked to be no problem. Oulart danced into attack and Rory Jacob clipped the first point inside 20 seconds.
Within the minute however, their captain and defensive bulwark Keith Rossiter had a clearance blocked by Peter Geraghty, who got the ball into Dan Currams for a clinical finish for the only goal of the afternoon.
Currams left the field with a cut and missed most of the first half but his return after the interval was significant, as his two second-half points killed Oulart’s momentum after they had closed to within two points with eight minutes left.
But it was the goal that haunted the outcome throughout the hour. Although Oulart reeled off two points to level the match in the fifth minute, parity lasted only seconds before James Gorman’s response restored the advantage to Kilcormac, who never subsequently lost it. In all, Oulart trailed for the whole match with the exception of about a minute.
Whether it was nerves or the heaviness of the surface – more likely the former as the winners looked sharp and their striking assured – the Wexford champions’ touch was poor and they fumbled possession and took too long to control the ball.
The early stages of clever running patterns and menacing build-up gave way to hit-and-hope deliveries that the increasingly confident Kilcormac defence mopped up with Kevin Grogan, excellent at right wing back, typifying the aggression by emphatically claiming a free dropped in on his goal by Conor O’Leary and emerging to launch the counter.
Peter Geraghty and Ciarán Slevin were excellent in attack at making the best of what was available and incrementally the crowd of 3,686 could sense the anxieties mounting for the Wexford men.
A three-point deficit at the break, 0-7 to 1-7, was amplified when the impeccable Gorman hit his third from play just after the restart. The long ball nearly paid off for Oulart a minute later but Garrett Sinnott’s shot was blocked by Conor Slevin.
Going into the final quarter the Wexford club looked to be making a move as a couple of Nicky Kirwan frees and a point by David Redmond, who ran tirelessly and pumped ball forward, cut the margin to two, 0-11 to 1-10. But the revival ran out of steam and Kilcormac finished the job with the focused excellence they had brought to the match as a whole.
KILCORMAC: C Slevin; J Grogan, G Healion, A McConville; K Grogan, P Healion, B Leonard (0-1); D Kilmartin (0-1), K Leonard; C Slevin (0-3, frees), C Mahon, P Geraghty (0-2); J Gorman (0-3), D Currams (1-2), T Geraghty. Subs: J Geraghty for K Leonard (61 mins).
OULART: B O’Connor; D Morton, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; L Prendergast, D Stamp, E Moore; D Redmond (0-1), S Murphy; D Nolan (0-1), P Roche, C O’Leary (0-1); R Jacob (0-2), G Sinnott, N Kirwan (0-6, frees). Subs: F Cullen for Murphy (25 mins), P Murphy for Roche (42 mins), A Kavanagh for O’Leary (52 mins).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).