IN the opening round of the Evening Echo SHC Erin’s Own beat Sarsfields by six points, and at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday the Glounthaune side confirmed their superiority over their neighbours by the same margin in the first of the championship semi-finals.
Following the drama of last season when they withdrew from the championship at the same stage, this was a most welcome result for the Glounthaune side, but they must wait at least another week before knowing who their opponents in the final will be.
The second semi-final was abandoned 10 minutes in because of the waterlogged pitch. This game could have suffered a similar fate had it started at 2.30pm
A goal was always going to be the deciding factor and it came Erin’s Own way seconds after the restart, when Mark O’Connor broke through and slotted the ball home to put his side in front.
Despite scoring first through Fergus Murphy after 30 seconds, Sars had slightly the better of the opening exchanges. Both defences were on top in the difficult underfoot conditions, which militated against good hurling; the sides were level four times in the opening quarter.
Sars came closest to a goal in that period but Shay Bowen got down well to turn Pat Barry’s low drive out for a 65 which Pat Ryan pointed, and when Kieran Murphy added another, it was the first time in the game there was more than one score between the teams.
The switch of Michael Cussen to centre forward worked well for Sars, as his aerial domination gave his side plenty of possession and with their backs, particularly Paul O’Flynn, Paul Roche and Brian McCarthy tenacious in the tackle, and Kieran Murphy giving them a slight pull at midfield, the Riverstown side were full value for their 0-6 to 0-5 half time lead.
There was far more urgency in Erins Own play on the change over and they struck the psychological blow just seconds in when Mark O’Connor ran on to a loose ball before striking home the all-important goal, a blow from which Sars never really recovered.
That goal lifted the Glounthaune side. Paul Fenton and Peter Kelly began to dominate in defence, Martin Buckley and Ronan Carroll were battling away while Kieran Murphy thundered into the game at midfield and his brother Eoin took over the free-taking with devastating effect.
Eoin rattled over three points in quick succession, and a superb effort by John Murphy for Sars meant that by the end of the third quarter Erin’s Own held a 1-8 to 0-7 lead.
Unfortunately, in a game which up to then had been played in an excellent spirit, things turned nasty and both sides were reduced to 14 men after Kieran Murphy (Erin’s Own) and Sars’ Kevin Goggin were sent off for second yellow card offences.
The sendings off made no appreciable difference as there was no great fluency due to the state of the pitch. Sars were still in contention after Pat Ryan pointed a free in the 49th minute to leave just the goal between the teams, but unfortunately for them it was to be their last score.
Lack of discipline by the Sars defenders gave Eoin Murphy the chance to show his ability, and he pointed a free from midfield while adding a score from play to edge his side five clear with five minutes remaining.
Sars threw everything at Erin’s Own, but John Murphy’s effort from a 20-metre free was blocked before Fergus Murphy completed the scoring with a great long range point.
Scorers: Erin’s Own: E. Murphy 0-5 (0-4 frees); M. O’Connor 1-0; F. Murphy, M. Buckley 0-2 each; R. Carroll, K. Murphy (free) 0-1 each. Sarsfields: J. Murphy (0-1 free), P. Ryan (0-1 free, 0-1 65) 0-2 each; B. McCarthy, T. Og Murphy, K. Murphy, P. Barry 0-1 each.
ERIN’S OWN: S. Bowen; P. Fenton, P. Fitzgerald, S. Murphy; S. Cronin, C. O’Connor, P. Kelly; K. Murphy, R. Carroll; M. O’Connor, M. Buckley, C. Coakley; F. Murphy, B. Corcoran, E. Murphy.
Sub: Killian Murphy for Coakley.
SARSFIELDS: D. O’Rourke; D. Kenneally, P. Roche, P. O’Flynn; K. Goggin, R. Ryan, B. McCarthy; K. Murphy, P. Ryan; T. Og Murphy, R. Murphy, M. Cussens; P. Barry, J. Murphy, N. O’Sullivan.
Subs: G. McCarthy for R. Murphy; J. Barry for Kenneally; R. Duggan for T. Og Murphy.
Referee: D. Copps (Ballyhea).
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