Faythe Harriers went in trailing by just a point at the break but got back level within seconds of the restart. But within 30 seconds Oulart-the-Ballagh struck for the game’s crucial score. Rory Jacob, quiet up to this point, suddenly exploded, collecting a long delivery into the full-forward line, rounding two defenders and sending an unstoppable shot beyond keeper Ian Scallan, to give his side a three point cushion.
Richie Kehoe was a commanding presence in the centre of the Faythe Harriers defence, while Keith Rossiter was having an inspirational game for the champions, with the result the sides were deadlocked at 0-2 each at the end of the opening quarter.
But suddenly Oular-the-Ballagh began to torment the opposing defence, beginning to create opening that saw them strike four points on the trot through David Redmond, Garrett Sinnot, Nickey Kirwan (free) and Rory Jacob. But Faythe Harriers kept on battling, hitting the final three points of the half through Colin Keeling, Paul Lambert and a Jim Berry free, although they still trailed 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval.
There was the prospect of a titanic second-half struggle when Jim Berry pointed the sides level within seconds of the restart, but it was Oulart-the-Ballagh who launched an attack straight from the puckout for Jacob to find the net. The sides continued to trade points, but, with sub Paul Roche stifling the influence of centre-back Richie Kehoe, it was a 48th minute Nicky Kirwan goal that put the champions six points clear, leaving the town side with a huge challenge.
While Faythe Harriers continued to take the game to their opponents, lack of penetration in the full-forward line came back to haunt them. Their game needed a goal but this never looked like materialising, with Keith Rossiter giving an exhibition of hurling, getting in the timely interceptions and huge clearances that broke the hearts of the opposing attack.
Although the Harriers had some fine points from one of their better players, Kevin Gore in midfield, not even the fine outfield hurling of Richie Kehoe and Lee Chin could inspire a late rally, as Jacob, Kirwan and David Redmond picked off the points to keep their side comfortably ahead.
OULART-THE-BALLAGH: B O’Connor; D Morton, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; C Goff, D Stamp, L Prendergast; D Redmond (0-3), E Moore; G Sinnott (0-1), F Cullen, D Mythen (0-1); R Jacob (1-3), P Murphy (0-1), N Kirwan (1-3, 2f). Subs: P Roche for Cullen; M Jacob for Moore; S Murphy for P Murphy.
FAYTHE HARRIERS: I Scallan; B Mulligan, D Mooney, A Lynch; C Keeling (0-1), R Kehoe, L Chin; J Berry (0-3, 2f), K Gore (0-5); W Mallon (0-1), S Howard, C Heffernan; P Lambert (0-1), P Farrell, R Clarke (0-2, 1f). Subs: M Campbell for Farrell; K Murphy for Howard.
Referee: N McDonald (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).