AIB Leinster Club Championship Semi-Final 2016
O’Loughlin Gaels 3-17 to 0-17 Oulart-the-Ballagh
Sunday Nov. 20th 2016 - Wexford Park Prk, 2pm – Referee Alfie Devine (WH)
A superb second half performance saw Sammy Johnston hit the net for the Gaels third goal, Martin Comerford add three points to his first half single and Mark Bergin consolidate a Man of the Match role, all putting O’loughlin Gaels into their third ever Leinster Club Final to face Dublin Champions Cuala GAA on December the 4th.
On a bitterly cold afternoon at Wexford Park the Kilkenny Champions took a while to warm to the game. Oulart had deployed an extra man in around the centre of the field, dragging the backs out of their comfort zone and creating spaces that saw them go into a five point lead within the first ten minutes. Great work by Mark Kelly however with a defence splitting run that resulted in the same player rattling the Oulart net. A chance to settle then and although the Wexford men returned the next two points the Gaels benefitted from a goal keeping error on eighteen minutes when their keeper failed to deal with a long range Mark Bergin strike and a second green flag was raised. The St. Johns outfit were only two points adrift now going into the final minutes of the first half and like a good race horse their ears were now pricked. After Mark Bergin added a pointed free the team thoroughbred Martin Comerford definitely had his ears pricked, popped over the first of his four points to bring the game level. After the teams traded points O’Loughlins finished the half stronger taking a two point lead into the dressing room. 2-6 to 0-10.
With the coastal breeze in their back in the second half the Gaels gave an explosive performance that earns them a Leinster Final berth. After several minutes of trading scores a poorly delivered Oulart puck out handed Sammy Johnston an opportunity that after a 40m dash he made no mistake about finding the net and a little bit of daylight was beginning to show in the form of a five point lead. For the next ten minutes the Gael were relentless all over the field and this massive team effort was rewarded with a further six unanswered points. With a little less than fifteen minutes to go the game was well out of reach for the Wexford men and O’Loughlin Gaels saw the game out in clinical fashion in what was unquestionably their best performance this year.
There were heros all over the field today. The scribes announce that Gorta just rolled back the years this year to his former greatness…we say he was never anything but great!! Mark Bergin scored 1-8 today. Four of those points were placed balls…but that’s only half the story. His workrate and touch was top class and Mark fully deserves the man of the match accolade. There was hard work everywhere…the defence was impenetrable ..Brian Hogan pulling the strings and playing a captains role..the two Kearns brothers as steely as ever.. Huw Lawlor and Alan O’Brien were massive in half back and up front Mark Kelly, Danny Loughnane and Alan Geoghegan put in the hard yards. In goal Stephen Murphy was faultless and brave. He batted out with purpose when called for, caught confidently and delivered accurately, and towards the end of the game pulled off a wonderful one-handed reflex save off the line in a crowded goalmouth area. Brilliant! It was a quintessential team performance that’s fluidity didn’t falter with the introduction of David Burke, Sean Bolger, Eoghan Grant and Shane Mahony over the final quarter.
It’s in to a Leinster Final so and that intensity will have to keep going if there’s more silverware to be added to Paddy Greene’s cabinet. The lads know they have it in them…but they also know they have to work hard for it. Well done ..keep it up…Lovely hurling.
Team: S. Murphy, A. Forristal, A. Kearns, E. Kearns, A. O’Brien, B. Hogan, H. Lawlor (0-1), P. Deegan (0-2), P. Butler, A. Geoghegan , M. Kelly ( 1-1), D.Loughnane (0-1), S. Johnston (1-0) , M. Bergin (1-8, 4f), M. Comerford, (0-4). S. Bolger , D. Burke, S. Mahony, E. Grant
B. Leydon, G. Bryan, P. Cantwell, C. Loy, N. Bergin, T. Gleeson, D. Lenihan, F. Brennan, M. Gibbons, S. Parsons, D. O’Connor, G. Kelly, J. Nolan, P. Byrne
Manager: A. Fogarty
Selectors: N. Skehan, D. Shelly, M Holohan
Fitness Trainer: M.Comerford