How do you solve a problem like Oulart?
- 9 county titles won in 12 years.
- An average winning margin per game of over 8 points in the past 6 seasons.
- 39 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats in their past 42 Wexford Championship matches.
When Ferns St Aidans line out next Sunday to face the men from Oulart-The Ballagh they know they are facing a monumental battle to dethrone the champions. The table below shows how dominant Oulart have been for the past 6 seasons:
(This table doesn’t include results from Oulart’s 4 titles from 2005-10!)
So how can Ferns try to stop the black and red monster rolling on?
MISSION 1: Stop Oulart scoring goals.
In their past 42 games (2011 to present) in the Pettits SHC Oulart have scored at least 1 goal in 36 matches……with a record of 35 wins and 1 draw.
Stopping Oulart’s forwards is far easier said than done, but a focus on keeping the sliotar out of the Ferns’ net must be the number 1 priority. The table below shows Oulart’s win record based on how many goals they have scored in a match.
Oulart’s two solitary defeats in their past 6 Pettits SHC seasons have come when they have been held goal-less. This year Mickey Laffan has built a tight Ferns defence, conceding only 1 goal in their 6 matches to date (to Oulart!), so this is a target they can really aim for.
MISSION 2: Take a different approach
Ferns have locked horns with Oulart 4 times in the past 6 seasons. each time coming out on the wrong end.
In each of these 4 matches Ferns have scored 17 times (1-16 three times and 0-17 once). Scoring 17 times or less against Oulart has never seen them beaten in the past 6 seasons (35 wins, 1 draw).
Ferns also have the undesirable record of having conceded the most of any team against Oulart over the past 6 years:
Ferns have conceded an average of 3-21 in their past 4 matches against Oulart. Some change has to be made from their previous approach, 17 scores have proven not to be enough and Fern’s have yet to get to grips with Oulart’s attack.
MISSION 3: Wear Blue & Green!
Ferns should look at previous ways teams have taken on Oulart and maybe the tactics/style employed by the Glynn Barntown men is the way they should work.
In their 3 meetings over the past 6 years Glynn Barntown have held Oulart to their lowest average score – 20 points (some 10 points less than Ferns’ average concession). Barntown’s results against Oulart read alot easier than most teams who’ve been put to the sword, Barntown have lost by 5 points, 1 point and had a shock win in 2014 through a last minute Rowan White goal.
Mickey Laffan would do well to tap into his home clubs experience in handling Oulart’s attack.
MISSION 4: Stifle the 4 Headed Beast
Dessie, Nicky, Rory & Garrett. Four names that defenders all over Wexford shudder to hear. Oulart Coach Frank Flannery likes to draw defences out and play ball into space in front of the four men that lead his charge.
This year these four Oulart forwards all make the Top 10 scorers from play in the Wexford Championship:
Ferns match-ups will have to be spot on in order to stifle the movement and speed of this front 4. Any space allowed to these four forwards can lead to disaster as Naomh Eanna found out within 2 minutes of their quarter final.
Mickey Laffan and the men from Ferns have their work cut out on Sunday. Their previous round upset win over St. Martins must give them great belief. Oulart are the standard bearers in Wexford and it will take one hell of a performance to oust the champions. Oulart found out in 2014 against Glynn Barntown that past dominance matters for little in knockout hurling. As a neutral I can only hope for a cracker.