A DRAW would have been the popular result in this entertaining, hard-fought and closely contested Cork senior hurling final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
Truth be told, however, and all due respect to what had been a mighty effort by the men from the Glen – this year’s Cinderella team from Cork city’s northside – a draw would have been hard on Sars, very hard.
Only marginally, yes, but those small margins are what make the difference at this level.
On a pleasant afternoon in the park, albeit on a pitch made greasy by the recent torrential rains, both teams came to play. Four points was the maximum advantage either side ever had, Sars in the opening half (1-3 to 0-2, 14th minute), and that due only to a very fortuitous goal.
A huge breeze-assisted free from outstanding corner-back Conor O’Sullivan, from wide left just outside his own 45m, carried all the way to the Glen square, but keeper Cathal Hickey was both unsighted and distracted by the presence and attempted ‘doubles’ on the dropping ball of a couple of Sars attackers.
Ball ended up in the net, which drew genuine sympathy from Sars keeper and captain Alan Kennedy – "I have so much time for Cathal, an incredible guy – before the game he came up and shook my hand."
The Glen recovered well from that setback and by the 23rd minute, with five points from the magnificent blade of Patrick Horgan (came into the game with a 10-pt championship average, 6-32 in seven games, notched another ten here), one each from the impressive Dean Brosnan and Brian Moylan, they were level, 1-4 to 0-7.
Another huge free from O’Sullivan, however, this one a point, a fine brace from wing-forward Gavin O’Loughlin, then Cian McCarthy’s second of the half, against two more from Horgan, and Sars went in at the break two points ahead, 1-8 to 0-9.
Though Sars opened the scoring immediately after the restart, another McCarthy pointed free, the third quarter was dominated by the Glen and in the 51st minute, captain David Cunningham leading by example on the 40, defenders Gavin and Brian Moylan with a point apiece, Brosnan and Horgan also in on the scoring act, they had taken what looked like a game-winning three-point lead, 0-17 to 1-11.
Then came the storming Sars finish, however, and fittingly, it was led by a point from hard-working never-say-die Kieran ‘Fraggie’ Murphy. His only point of the game, and it was set up for him by another ne’er-say-die hero, the towering Michael Cussen.
Seven shots Michael had on goal in this game, seven wides, yet he never dropped the head, never stopped shooting, never stopped trying. He had his just reward too, in the final minute, super control of a high Daniel Roche centre, then a shot to the net despite being double-fouled; the goal was called back, whistle sounded by referee Dave Copps (excellent performance) and penalty awarded before the shot was taken, but no matter.
Cian McCarthy rocketed the ball high over the bar to give the Sars a two-point cushion entering injury-time. A rocky few minutes they were too, for Sars, but the closest the Glen could come was a 20m free from wide right in the last action of the game, drilled low by Patrick Horgan, comfortably saved and cleared.
Close, by the Glen, but closed out by the Sars.
Scorers for Sarsfields: C McCarthy 0-8 (0-6 frees, 0-1 65); C O’Sullivan 1-1 (frees); G O’Loughlin 0-3; T Óg Murphy 0-3; K Murphy, D Kearney, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Glen Rovers: P Horgan 0-10 (0-8 frees, 0-1 65); D Brosnan 0-2; D Cunningham 0-2; B Moylan 0-2 (0-1 free); G Moylan, D Busteed, 0-1 each.
Subs for Sarsfields: Sarsfields: R Murphy (O’Driscoll inj. 42); W Kearney (O’Loughlin 53); P Ryan (O’Kelly-Lynch 58).
Glen Rovers subs: D Busteed (Cronin 19); E Cronin (Whitty 42).
Referee: D Copps (Ballyhea).