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St Martin’s dethrone Oulart-the-Ballagh in Wexford Park rout

Defending champions start strongly but lose by 10 points after a blitz in last 20 minutes

St Martins beat Oulart-the-Ballagh to win the Wexford club SHC final at Wexford Park. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

St Martin’s 2-16 Oulart-the-Ballagh 1-9

The modern day giants of Wexford hurling were dethroned in emphatic fashion, as St Martin’s produced a storming last twenty minutes to win by a comfortable ten point margin in the Wexford senior hurling championship final at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.

St Martin’s were out to avenge their final defeat of two years ago but had to survive a tetchy opening fifteen minutes at the end of which they trailed 1-3 to 0-2.

Garrett Sinnott fired Oulart-the-Ballagh in front after just five minutes with a fine goal, capitalising on a breaking ball to the right of goal to fire low into the left hand corner of the net.

Ironically it was the reigning champions who looked the more impressive side through theopening quarter, having put the loss of star forward Dessie Mythen behind them. The experienced attacker was forced off with a knee injury, a huge blow to the attack as they looked to capitalise on hesitancy in the Martin’s defence, with Nicky Kirwan on target with pointed frees.

But once Rory O’Connor proved his fitness, taking his place at full-forward despite a heavily bandaged leg which had him doubtful all week - and when he picked off some splendid points from frees - he kept his side in contention. Further points by Kirwan from frees had Oulart-the-Ballagh leading 1-5 to 0-3 after 22 minutes, but it was two minutes that transformed the game.

St Martin’s badly needed a goal and it arrived in unusual circumstances. Rory O’Connor stepped up to a free 25m in front of goal, played a short ball across to the unmarked Ciaran Lyng who blasted an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net. Substitute Joe Coleman and Jake Firman, with two points, helped their side finish the half strongly and they led 1-7 to 1-5 at the interval.

Nicky Kirwan hit two pointed frees within minutes of the restart to bring the sides level, but ominously for the reigning champions Rory O’Connor was beginning to dominate in midfield. Aided by eventual man of the match Daithi Waters St Martin’s gradually assumed total control, building a 1-12 to 1-8 lead with ten minutes remaining.

Waters scored an inspirational point, and when Joe O’Connor found the net with a splendid finish on sixty minutes they closed out a dramatic and deserved victory.

St Martin’s: L White; W Devereux, P O’Connor, C Firman; D Waters (0-1), A Maddock, P Kelly (0-1); H O’Connor, M Maloney; J Firman (0-2), Joe O’Connor (1-1), Jack O’Connor (0-1); C Lyng (1-2), R O’Connor (0-5, 4frees), D Codd. Subs: J Coleman (0-3) for Codd (18); M Coleman for Maloney (52); B O’Connor for H O’Connor (55); M Codd for J Firman (55); E O’Leary for Joe O’Connor (60).

Oulart-the-Ballagh: C O’Leary; A Roche, K Rositer, B Kehoe; D Morton, S Murphy, K Sheridan (0-1); D Redmond (0-1), E Moore; R Jacob (0-1), M Og Storey, P Murphy; T Storey, G Sinnott (1-0), N Kirwan (0-6 frees). Subs: B Dunne for Storey (37); D Mythen for T Storey (48); P Sutton for P Murphy (49); M Jacob for Roche (58).

Referee: J Owens (Askamore/Kilrush).