Paudie O’Sullivan’s last-gasp strike rescues replay for Imokilly

Imokilly 1-24 Sarsfields 2-21 (Cork SHC semi-final): Given the way the game went as a whole, Imokilly might have been disappointed to only have garnered a draw at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday, but the East Cork divisional side were most glad of Paudie O’Sullivan’s equaliser in the 64th minute.

Only three times did Sarsfields have the lead here — when Jack O’Connor opened the scoring in the first minute, when Aaron Myers’ free made it 2-20 to 1-22 in the third minute of injury time and then, after Séamus Harnedy’s leveller, when Daniel Kearney looked to have got the winner.

The Glanmire club were on the brink of an eighth county final in 10 years, but O’Sullivan was on hand to send over a beautiful score when Declan Dalton’s puckout broke. It means a replay on Saturday — a fourth weekend in a row for both teams, after quarter-final draws — while the hurlers of Aghada and Éire Óg remain in limbo as to whether the IHC final will go ahead on October 22, as the curtain-raiser to the senior decider.

Two Aghada attackers, Cian Fleming and William Leahy, were Imokilly’s top scorers here and though O’Sullivan and Harnedy didn’t influence the game as they might have liked, both were on hand at crucial times, as Kearney was for Sars.

Scoring power off the bench was also important for Sars, as three points in a row, two Myers frees and one from Luke Hackett, put them 2-20 to 1-22 in front, having spent most of the game wiping out Imokilly leads only to fail to add a lead score.

In the first half, Sars — with no semi-final defeat since their re-emergence as an elite side in 2008 — trailed by six and then early in the second half by four, but each time they achieved parity before another Imokilly burst.

Fleming’s goal on nine minutes, created by virtue of a great Leahy catch and then O’Sullivan’s offload, made it 1-3 to 0-2 and by the end of the first quarter it was 1-6 to 0-3.

However, O’Connor went close to a Sars goal, hitting the post on 19 and, after points from Eoins O’Sullivan and Quigley, O’Connor did rattle the net from practically the same spot, O’Sullivan tying matters.

Once more though, as half-time approached Imokilly stretched ahead, with Leahy (two), Ian Cahill and Fleming putting them 1-11 to 1-7 in front before Quigley’s score reduced the lead slightly by the break.

Kearney made it a two-point game on the resumption only for a brace by Fleming to extend Imokilly’s advantage before another Sars fightback.

William Kearney, having pushed up from the full-back line, set the mini-revival in train before Tadhg Óg Murphy, sub Liam Healy and Cormac Duggan — rounding off a good move — made it 1-13 each.

Fleming’s lead score was answered by William Kearney again, but when Imokilly got five of the six points, including two long-range dead balls by goalkeeper Declan Dalton, they led by 1-19 to 1-15 with ten minutes left.

Still Sars would not yield. Eoghan Murphy pointed and then set up Daniel Kearney for his second. While sub Brian Mulcahy gave Imokilly a bit more breathing space, it was a tied game once again when Tadhg Óg Murphy pulled to the net after Conor O’Sullivan’s delivery broke.

Points by O’Sullivan and Fleming seemed to indicate that the concession had little or no effect on Imokilly, but Myers and Hackett levelled yet again and they had a chance for the lead when O’Connor was fouled and no advantage accrued.

Myers converted but just as quickly, John Cronin set up Harnedy to level, with the fourth minute of injury time about to start. Kearney’s third point was greeted with Sars joy, but there was still time for Imokilly and O’Sullivan did the needful to ensure a second chance.

Scorers for Imokilly:

C Fleming 1-5, W Leahy 0-6 (five frees), D Dalton 0-3 (two frees, one 65), I Cahill, P O’Sullivan, S Harnedy, B Mulcahy 0-2 each, B Lawton, J Beausang 0-1 each.

Scorers for Sarsfields:

J O’Connor 1-3, T Murphy 1-2, D Kearney, E O’Sullivan (one free) 0-3 each, W Kearney, E Quigley, C Duggan, A Myers (frees) 0-2 each, E Murphy, L Hackett, L Healy 0-1 each.

IMOKILLY:

D Dalton (Fr O’Neills); B Ó Tuama (Castlemartyr), C Barry (Castlelyons), K Histon (Cobh); C O’Brien (St Ita’s), N O’Leary (Castlelyons), J Cronin (Lisgoold); M O’Keeffe (Fr O’Neills), B Lawton (Castlemartyr); W Leahy (Aghada), P O’Sullivan (Cloyne), S Harnedy (St Ita’s); C Fleming (Aghada), I Cahill (Cloyne), J Beausang (Russell Rovers).

Subs:

B Mulcahy (St Catherine’s) for Beausang (half-time), G Millerick (Fr O’Neills) for Histon (43), L O’Shea (Lisgoold) for Cahill (60).

SARSFIELDS:

A Kennedy; C O’Sullivan, C Leahy, W Kearney; E Murphy, P Leopold, G Grey; C Smith, D Roche; E Quigley, T Óg Murphy, D Roche; J O’Connor, C Duggan, E O’Sullivan.

Subs:

L Healy for Smith (half-time), G O’Loughlin for Duggan (43), A Myers for E O’Sullivan (51), L Hackett for Roche (57).

Referee:

N Wall (Carrigaline).


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