By Michael Moynihan
Na Piarsaigh 1-22 Oulart-The Ballagh 0-20 (AET)
St. Patrick’s Day beckons for Na Piarsaigh after an extra-time epic against Oulart-The Ballagh, a crowd of 2,566 getting their money’s worth.
Oulart started with the wind and moved wing-forward Garrett Sinnott to full-forward, where he opened the scoring; corner-forward Rory Jacob drifted out to midfield leaving space inside. The Wexford champions were sharp, and led 0-4 to 0-1 after 10 minutes.
Two Shane Dowling points (one a free) and a fine Peter Casey effort levelled matters by the 15th minute; Tommy Storey and Kevin Downes swapped points before David Breen put Na Piarsaigh ahead for the first time on 21 minutes.
Breen extended their lead five minutes later with another point, though Kirwan responded instantly with a free, and good Oulart pressure on the puck-out yielded another free, which Kirwan pointed to level the game.
A towering Ronan Lynch free put Na Piarsaigh one up as half-time approached, but Des Mythen equalised and nudged Oulart ahead with a better score a minute later. In injury time, however, Breen collected a Lynch free and goaled neatly.
Dowling (free) and Dempsey put four between them on the resumption, with Oulart hitting four wides in response. By the 40th minute Na Piarsaigh were five up, thanks to a Downes point, and looking good.
Kirwan struck two frees to give Oulart hope entering the third quarter, but Alan Dempsey responded with two good points for the Limerickmen.
Mythen and Kirwan then made it a two-point game entering the final 10 minutes; with five left Kirwan cut the deficit to one; and as the clock showed 60, Kirwan knocked over the equaliser from yet another free.
Na Piarsaigh impressed on the resumption.
Downes snapped over a point when extra-time began, Alan Dempsey drove over another long-range effort soon after and before the break Dowling pointed a free and Will O’Donoghue landed a monster point.
All Oulart had in response was an Eoin Moore free, but it meant only a goal separated them at half-time in extra-time.
Alan Dempsey pointed on the resumption, and Oulart keeper Conor O’Leary trotted up to take a close-in free but blasted it over the bar.
Peter Casey made it a four-point game from the puck-out, with only four minutes left.
Eoin Moore and Adrian Breen had time to swap points before Downes chimed in with another point - 1-21 to 0-19, with two minutes left.
Though Billy Dunne pointed a free for Oulart, Dowling had the last word with a free.
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: D. Breen (1-2), S. Dowling (0-4 frees)(0-5); K. Downes, A. Dempsey (0-4) each; D. Dempsey,P. Casey (0-2) each; R. Lynch (free), A. Breen, W. O’Donoghue (0-1) each.
Scorers for Oulart-The Ballagh: N. Kirwan (0-8 frees) 0-10; D. Mythen (0-3); E. Moore (0-1 free) (0-2); S. Murphy, G. Sinnott, T. Storey, C. O’Leary (free), B. Dunne (free) (0-1) each.
NA PIARSAIGH: P. Kennedy, M Casey, K. Breen, K. Kennedy, M. Foley, R. Lynch, C. King ( c), A. Dempsey, W. O’Donoghue, S. Dowling, D. Breen, K. Ryan, K. Downes, D. Dempsey, P. Casey.
Subs: A. Breen for K. Ryan (38).
OULART-THE BALLAGH: C. O’Leary, B. Kehoe ( c), K. Rossiter, A. Roche, K. Sheridan, S. Murphy, E. Moore, D. Redmond, M. Jacob, T. Storey, D. Mythen, P. Murphy, R. Jacob, G. Sinnott, N. Kirwan.
Subs: T. Dunne for P. Murphy (42); K. Nimmo for M. Jacob (44); B. Dunne for D. Redmond (52); D. Stamp for T. Dunne (58); S. Doyle for G. Sinnott (70); D. Redmond for D. Mythen (HT ET); D. Nolan for N. Kirwan (72).
Referee: F. Horgan (Tipperary).