SARSFIELDS pulled out all the stops to see of Blackrock’s challenge in this keenly contested Evening Echo county SHC first round tie at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
Sars were clearly the better side for most of the match but faulty finishing – they hit 11 wides to six for their opponents — meant they had to endure a late scare before holding out for a one point victory.
It was only Blackrock’s experience which kept them in the match for so long and one wonders if there is much hurling left in this once great side. But for the excellence of Wayne Sherlock, Fergal Ryan, Adrian Coughlan, Liam Meaney and Alan Browne, they would have been well beaten, and they now bid to get their season back on track against St. Catherine’s in round two.
Sars got the perfect start and had three points on the board in as many minutes.
Kieran Murphy and Pat Ryan gave Sars a grip at midfield and with the Rockies defence decidedly shaky, the chances were being created but not being taken. Defensively they were also on top with their half back line of Ray Ryan, Darren Kenneally and Cian Kennedy giving nothing away and Blackrock had to wait 10 minutes for their opening score, an Adrian Coughlan point from a free.
Blackrock attempted to inject a bit more punch up front by moving Alan Browne to full-forward and bringing David Cashman out to wing forward and with his first touch Cashman landed a point which left Sars 0-4 to 0-2 in front after 15 minutes.
Sars wasted a lot of hard won possession through faulty shooting with the Rockies almost equally as guilty, the ever reliable Adrian Coughlan hitting two bad wides. He finally found the target in the 31st minute with a point from a free and he repeated that feat a minute later to leave Sars 0-6 to 0-4 in front at half-time, a poor return for the amount of possession they had enjoyed.
Within 30 seconds of the restart Blackrock’s Colin O’Leary was inches away from a goal after good work by Brian O’Keeffe.
Maintaining the pressure the city side were level by the 32nd minute after Adrian Coughlan and Derek Gosnell scored a point each. From a position of almost totally control, Sars began to struggle and Blackrock hit the front for the first time with Alan Browne point.
David Cashman was far more effective on the wing and he stretched his side’s lead with a splendid point. Sars appeared to have lost their way and they needed inspiration to turn this game around.
And it came in the form of former inter-county senior Pat Ryan. Now operating in attack, Ryan rifled over two excellent points in-a-row to level the game for the third time and with tension mounting, Daniel Kearney gave them the lead with a point. However, he missed a glorious chance of a goal, failing to capitalise when Trevor Barry dropped the ball on his line.
Blackrock were grateful for the excellence of Wayne Sherlock, now back at corner back, as youthful Sars came in search of the match winning scores.
Adrian Coughlan, now operating at corner forward, equalised for the Rockies in the 50th minute. But with Paul Roche doing an excellent marking job on Alan Browne, Sars struck for the match winning scores with points by John Murphy and one from a 65 by Pat Ryan.
However, there was still a kick in Blackrock and Coughlan landed his eighth point from a free before they lost a chance of a goal when Colin O’Leary’s shot bounced back off the upright.
Scorers for Sarsfields: P. Ryan 0-6 (0-4 frees, 0-1 65); R. Ryan, K. Murphy 0-2 each; M. Cussen D. Kearney, J. Murphy 0-1 each.
Blackrock scorers: A. Coughlan 0-8 (frees); D. Cashman 0-2; D. Gosnell, A. Browne 0-1 each.
SARSFIELDS: A. Kennedy; J. Barry, P. Roche, K. Goggin; C. Kennedy, D. Kenneally, R. Ryan; K. Murphy, P. Ryan; P. Goggin, R. Murphy, P. Barry; T. Og Murphy, M. Cussen, D. Kearney.
BLACKROCK: F. Barry; S. Murphy, J. Browne, R. Curtin; W. Sherlock, J. Young, F. Ryan; A. Coughlan, C. Murphy; C. O’Leary, D. Gosnell, A. Browne; B. O’Keeffe, D. Cashman, L. Meaney.
Referee: A. Cummins (Ballymartle).
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