St Martin’s were out to avenge the final defeat of two years ago, but had to survive a testing opening quarter at the end of which they trailed 1-3 to 0-2, Garrett Sinnott having fired the reigning champions in front after just five minutes with a fine goal.
Oulart-the-Ballagh looked the more impressive side through this opening quarter, despite the loss of star forward Dessie Mythen due to a knee injury. In his absence, they were capitalising on hesitancy in the St Martin’s defence, with Nicky Kirwan on target with pointed frees.
However, Rory O’Connor (despite a heavily bandaged leg) continued to keep St Martin’s in touch with a run of points from placed balls.
Further scores by Kirwan from frees had Oulart-the-Ballagh leading 1-5 to 0-3 after 22 minutes.
St Martin’s badly needed a goal and it arrived in unusual circumstances. Rory O’Connor stepped up to a free 25 metres 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. Points from Joe Coleman and Jake Firman edged the underdogs 1-7 to 1-5 ahead at the interval.
Kirwan hit two pointed frees within minutes of the restart to bring the sides level, but their celebrations were short-lived, as Rory O’Connor (now in midfield) began to dominate and, aided by the man-of-the-match, Daithi Waters, St Martin’s opened up a four-point lead (1-12 to 1-8) with 10 minutes remaining.
Waters and O’Connor led the way as they completely overpowered the reigning champions with a dominant display of hurling. They had put themselves into a winning position and eventually closed out the game when Joe O’Connor found the net with a splendid finish on the hour to spark incredible celebrations.
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.
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).
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).
B Dunne for Storey (37); D Mythen for T Storey (48); P Sutton for P Murphy (49); M Jacob for Roche (58).
J Owens (Askamore/Kilrush).