St Martin’s upset the formbook in Wexford decider

St Martin’s 2-16 Oulart-the-Ballagh 1-9: The modern-day giants of Wexford hurling were dethroned in emphatic fashion as St Martin’s turned in a storming last 20 minutes to win by 10 points in yesterday’s Wexford senior hurling championship final at Innovate Wexford Park.

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.

ST MARTIN’S:

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.

Subs:

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).

OULART-THE-BALLAGH:

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).

Subs:

B Dunne for Storey (37); D Mythen for T Storey (48); P Sutton for P Murphy (49); M Jacob for Roche (58).

Referee:

J Owens (Askamore/Kilrush).


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