Sarsfields 3-11 CIT 0-14
Sarsfields’ goal-poaching ability again proved crucial as they outgunned the students of CIT in the second of the Cork SHC semi-finals at Pairc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
Sarsfields bagged three, each at crucial stages of a very disappointing tie, to see off the challenge of last year’s beaten finalists and set up an unexpected final tilt with Bishopstown in three weeks’ time.
Like the opening game, this one also lacked any real sparkle. The lack of atmosphere around the ground did not help, but semi-finals are all about winning and Sarsfields are back in the final after a two-year absence, much to the delight of their manager Pat Ryan.
"We knew coming down here it was not going to be easy. CIT are a very good side, with a lot of excellent players. They lost last year’s final and were determined to make it back to the final again," said Ryan.
"The hurling wasn’t the best but it’s all about winning when you get to this stage of the championship, and I’d sooner win a bad game than lose a good one.
"The wind was a factor. Both teams seemed to play better against it, but we’ll have to improve for the final. That display wouldn’t be good enough to beat Bishopstown.
"Thankfully, we have three weeks to get things right. I’m pleased with the victory. Contesting senior county finals is where Sars want to be but titles don’t come easy. Anything can happen in a two-horse race."
CIT were forced to line out without Aidan Walsh, who picked up a hamstring injury playing football with Duhallow on Saturday night, but they made the early running, aided by the strong wind, and had two points on the board inside the opening three minutes.
A minute later in their first attack, Sars found the CIT net after Eanna Martin’s long delivery was forced over the line by an alert Kieran Murphy, and with the students wasting chances both from play and placed balls, Sars began to stamp their authority.
The excellence of their half-back line meant a plentiful supply of ball into their forwards, where Michael Cussen used his height to great effect and Sars struck for a second major when Kieran Murphy created the chance for Robert O’Driscoll, whose first-time effort billowed the net from close range.
Matters weren’t looking good for the students as they turned to face the wind and six points in arrears, but they threw down the gauntlet to Sars with three points in a row, two by the impressive David Drake, and with the Colm Casey and Stephen White playing well, CIT had the deficit down to two points at the end of the third quarter.
However they needed a goal and that never looked like coming as a resolute Sars defence — in which Darren Kenneally, Eanna Martin and Ray Ryan were outstanding — gave nothing away.
Robert O’Driscoll wasted a glorious chance of putting the game out of the reach of the students, but he blazed wide from 13 metres, and as time ticked away only a puck of a ball separated the sides, as the students pinned Sars in their own half.
Sars were living on their nerves as the game went into injury-time before a mix up in the CIT defence let substitute Eoin O’Sullivan in for their third goal and the final whistle sounded on the puck out.
Scorers for Sarsfields: C. McCarthy 0-6 (0-5 frees); R. O’Driscoll 1-2; K. Murphy, E. O’Sullivan 1-0 each; M. Cussen, T. Óg Murphy, G. O’Loughlin 0-1 each.
Scorers for CIT: L. McLoughlin 0-4 (0-3 frees); C. Casey, D. Drake 0-3 each; M. O’Sullivan, N. Kelly, C. Sheehan (free), T. Quaid (free), 0-1 each.
SARSFIELDS: A. Kennedy; D. Kenneally, J. Barry, C. O’Sullivan; E. Martin, R. Ryan, D. Roche; E. Quigley, D. Kearney; W. Kearney, C. McCarthy, G. O’Loughlin; K. Murphy, M. Cussen, E. O’Sullivan.
Subs: W. Kearney for T. Óg Murphy (45); E. O’Sullivan for K. Murphy (50); C. Leahy for D. Kearney (60).
CIT: K. Roche (Banteer); E. Finn (Ballinhassig), M.Ellis (Millstreet), B. Withers (Banteer); S. White (Ballygargvan), M. Ahearne (Ballinhassig), B. O’Sullivan (Fermoy); L. McLoughlin (Kanturk), N. Kelly (Mayfield); J. Cronin (Lisgoold), C. Casey (Inniscarra), M. O’Sullivan (Tracton); S. Corcoran (Carrigaline), D. Drake (Carrigaline), T. Quaid (Effin, Limerick).
Subs: S. Daniels (DLS Waterford) for Desmond (10); C. Sheehan (Eire Og) for Sheedy (20); S. O’Brien (Carrigaline) for Quaid (50); S. O’Halloran (Clarecastle) for N. Kelly (50); J. Coakley (Aghabullogue) for Cronin (55).
Referee: J. Sexton (Ballyhea).