O’Loughlin Gaels eye Leinster SHC club final

Oulart-the-Ballagh (Wexford) 0-17 O’Loughlin Gaels (Kilkenny) 3-17

A stirring second-half display by a Mark Bergin-inspired O’Loughlin Gaels saw the Kilkenny city club reach their first Leinster SHC club final in six years, writes John Fogarty.

Leading 2-6 to 0-10 at half-time, Aidan Fogarty’s men rode their luck for the opening quarter but were dominant thereafter as Bergin moved out from full-forward to dictate the game.

Bergin had help from the dashing Mark Kelly and veteran Martin Comerford who sent over four fabulous points.

Much of their success was down to crowding out their Wexford rivals in the middle of the field where they had been lax in the early stages.

Paddy Deegan of O'Loughlin Gaels in action against Kevin Sheridan of Oulart the Ballagh.

Sammy Johnston’s goal eight minutes into the second half pushed O’Loughlin Gaels into a four-point lead and they rattled over the next five points to pull away.

The home side made an electric start, sending over five unanswered points in the opening 12 minutes. All O’Loughlin Gaels managed in return were a couple of wides, one of them a poor free effort by Bergin.

But the Kilkenny champions bounced into the game with a Kelly goal in the 13th minute. He had initially burst through the middle and teed up Johnston for a shot, which was blocked by Tommy Storey. However, Kelly had the presence of mind to stay involved and shot high into the net.

Oulart-the-Ballagh recovered well from that setback with two points in quick succession and added a further brace after a Bergin point but then the game turned on its axis in the 20th minute when Conor O’Leary failed to negotiate a long Bergin point attempt, which he fumbled over the line.

It was the impetus O’Loughlin Gaels so badly needed and they tagged on another three points to go ahead before Rory Jacob ended a 11 minute barren patch for Oulart-the-Ballagh. However, Bergin (free) and Huw Lawlor finished the half’s scoring to give O’Loughlin Gaels an unlikely two-point cushion.

Scorers for Oulart-the-Ballagh: G. Sinnott (0-5); N. Kirwan (0-4, 3 frees); D. Mythen, D. Redmond (0-2 each); R. Jacob, P. Murphy, B. Dunne, M. Doyle (0-1 each).

Scorers for O’Loughlin Gaels: M. Bergin (1-8, 0-4 frees); M. Kelly (1-1); M. Comerford (0-4); S. Johnston (1-0); P Deegan (0-2); H. Lawlor, D. Loughnane (0-1 each).

Subs for Oulart-the-Ballagh: M. Jacob for D. Morton (28); E. Murphy for K. Rossiter (blood, 30-h-t); M. Storey for K. Sheridan (44); M. Doyle for D. Mythen (45); B. Dunne for T. Storey (47); N. Redmond for P. Murphy (52).

Subs for O’Loughlin Gaels: D. Burke for D. Loughnane (blood, 30-ht); S. Bolger for S. Johnston (56); E. Grant for B. Hogan, S. Mahony for B. Hogan (both 59).D. Burke for P. Butler (60+1).

OULART-THE-BALLAGH: C. O’Leary; K. Rossiter, D. Morton, B. Kehoe; A. Roche, S. Murphy, E. Moore; D. Redmond, T. Storey; K. Sheridan, D. Mythen, P. Murphy; R. Jacob, G. Sinnott (c), N. Kirwan.

O’LOUGHLIN GAELS: S. Murphy; A. Forristal, A. Kearns, E. Kearns; A. O’Brien, B. Hogan (c), H. Lawlor; P. Butler, P. Deegan; A. Geoghegan, M. Kelly, D. Loughnane; S. Johnston, M. Bergin, M. Comerford.

Referee: A. Devine (Westmeath).

***

Cuala (Dublin) 1-19 St Mullins (Carlow) 1-7

O'Loughlins will play Dublin champions Cuala following their convincing 1-19 to 1-7 win over St Mullins of Carlow at Netwatch Cullen Park.

St Mullins had a 10th-minute John Murphy goal but Cuala, with David Treacy converting frees and Con O'Callaghan dangerous near goal, were 0-6 to 1-2 in front by the 20th minute.

By half time Cuala deservedly led 0-9 to 1-3 and were headed for the decider when O'Callaghan benefitted from a defensive slip-up to goal on 48 minutes.


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