But the champions, having enjoyed a blistering start, 2-2 to 0-1 up inside four minutes, were given an almighty fright by a Ferns side that fought back magnificently as they sought out a first senior title in this their first final appearance since 1969.
David Redmond, popping up in different positions, inspired his side’s striking over two crucial second-half points on 23 and 25 minutes to give his side a single point lead. Although Ferns battled back to level, the Jacob brothers fired over two points in additional time to steer their side to a historic victory.
A Rory Jacob goal inside 60 seconds followed by a Nicky Kirwan effort three minutes later, had the champions leading 2-2 to 0-1, in what was a dramatic start. Ferns gradually exploded into the game, picking off a string of excellent points through Ian Byrne, Tommy Dwyer, Jonathan Dwyer and John Breen, as they transformed the game going in leading 0-12 to 2-4 at the interval.
Garrett Sinnott and Paul Morris exchanged early second-half points, but Ferns showed they were up for a battle in what turned out an absorbing second-half. The challengers were leading 0-13 to 2-6 when Kirwan goaled from close range after 41 minutes. The champions weren’t setting the world alight but they were digging in after a Paul Morris point reduced the deficit to the minimum. Jonathan Dwyer and Darren Nolan exchanged points before keeper Ben O’Connor dropped a lobbing Paul Morris ball over the line, giving Ferns a 1-15 to 3-8 lead going into the closing ten minutes. Oulart kicked on with some fine scores but Paul Morris kept his side in contention. Then in the fifth minute of additional time Tommy Dwyer had a 21m free saved giving Oulart-the-Ballagh a historic victory.
Scorers for Oulart-the-Ballagh: N Kirwan (2-3, 0-2 frees), R Jacob (1-2), D Redmond (0-3), M Jacob, G Sinnott, D Nolan, D Mythen (0-1 each).
Scorers for Ferns St Aidan’s: P Morris (1-3), T Dwyer (4fs), J Dwyer (2 s/l) (0-4 each), I Byrne (0-3), B Jordan, J Breen (0-1 each).
OULART-THE-BALLAGH: B O’Connor; P Roche, K Rossiter, B Kehoe; L Prendergast, D Stamp, S Murphy; E Moore, M Jacob; D Nolan, D Redmond, D Mythen; R Jacob, G Sinnott, N Kirwan.
Subs: D Morton for Stamp (inj), C Goff for Moore (inj), C O’Leary for Murphy.
FERNS ST AIDAN’S: M Walsh; D Byrne, N Maguire, C Whelan; G Bailey, J Tonks, C Roberts; B Jordan, T Dwyer; I Byrne, P Morris, J Dwyer; P Farrell, J Breen, C O’Connor.
Subs: C Leacy for Byrne; D Thorpe for Farrell.
Referee: S Whelan (St. Martin’s).