Sars’ greater versatility and deeper bench proves crucial

This showpiece of Cork senior hurling struggled to come to life as a contest in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.

There was no goalmouth drama or big tackles and it lacked the intensity that one associates with championship encounters until the last 10 minutes.

Neither goalkeeper was busy over the hour. Bishopstown’s Ken O’Halloran made a save from Kieran Murphy in the 25th minute when the attacker may have been better advised to shoot for a point while at the other end Sars’ Alan Kennedy was mainly redundant, although one mix up with full-back Joe Barry at the end of the first quarter could have had major implications for his side.

Sarsfields went into this game as the hottest of favourites.

They lived up to that tag proving the better team overall and deserved their win. Underdogs Bishopstown based their run to the final on keeping goal chances to a minimum. This tactic succeeded for most of yesterday’s game before Robert O’Driscoll’s superb strike 10 minutes from time set up the victory for the Riverstown club.

That goal gave Sars a four-point lead at a crucial time and it was a gap that Bishopstown, who were over reliant on centre forward Pa Cronin for scores, could not close.

Bishopstown led from the 14th minute and kept their noses in front for 33 minutes. They struck no wides in the first-half whereas Sars hit eight with Cian McCarthy guilty for five of those although he redeemed himself with four points from frees.

After the break Bishopstown needed a similar wide statistic to their first half but they hit six.

They also needed to put Cronin in possession from puck outs but they only won five of their 12 second-half puck outs although Cronin won two of these. In contrast, Sars won eight of their 11 second-half puck outs and only hit three wides.

Both teams adopted similar attacking tactics. Sarsfields played the rangy Michael Cussen at full forward and attempted to find him as often as they could with high balls. At the other end Bishopstown attempted to find big Denis Crowley with route one deliveries.

They had some success with this tactic in the first-half. Crowley scored a good point early on and full-forward Michael Power picked up a good point from a break off the corner forward. But in the second period Sarfields’ inside defence coped comfortably with the aerial deliveries and their wing backs and midfielder Eoin Quigley got a grip on the game.

Bishopstown may have benefited more from placing Crowley at the edge of the square and the more mobile Power in the corner and varying their attacks between the two.

Sarfields corner forwards Robert O Driscoll and Kieran Murphy saw little direct supply as most ball was channelled through the centre to the aforementioned Cussen.

He was well supplied and had some success against Shane O’Neill in the second-half scoring a point and setting up another although his marker stuck tenaciously to his task. Two passages of play in the second-half had a crucial bearing on this game. Six minutes after the restart, with Bishopstown leading by a point, a simple tap over free was fluffed by Cian McCarthy. Bishopstown won the resultant throw-in decisively and with a spirited drive up the field they set up a scoring chance for Pa Cronin but his effort tailed wide.

Ten minutes later, a forceful Sars attack was held up by a stubborn ‘Town defence.

The play ebbed and flowed for a minute or two and ended with Sars’ Cian McCarthy giving Sars the lead — a big psychological score.

Sars’ manager Pat Ryan will be pleased with the win and pleased with their sideline calls as their replacements made telling contributions. Tadhg Óg Murphy, in at half time, was prominent all through the second period setting up the equaliser for Daniel Kearney in the 47th minute having scored an important long range effort earlier.

But it was the introduction of Cork U21 Eoin O Sullivan in the 46th minute that brought energy to the Riverstown club’s attack. His pace caused problems for the Bishopstown defence and it was this pace and persistence allied to a clever cross that set up the aforementioned crucial goal for Sars.

Cork manager Jimmy Barrry-Murphy and his selectors as well as most neutrals attended yesterday in the hope of spying some fresh intercounty talent but no new names emerged.

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