Sars turn on the power in replay

JOY, at last, for Sarsfields.

Sarsfield 1-15 Erins Own 0-9

Showing far greater urgency and plenty of hurling know-how, they stripped neighbours and arch-rivals Erins Own of their Cork Co U-21 title at Rostellan on Saturday by winning this East Cork decider.

And while it might be described as grand larceny in many quarters, there can be no denying that the Riverstown side were the masters over the two games.

Sars coach John Crowley summed it up. "This victory is well overdue. I've never worked with a more dedicated bunch of guys. To be honest we had little hurling done. Last October-November finished our hurling year. But we always had an eye on this game and with the facilities we have down here we worked hard. I think our fitness level proved that today."

Absolutely right. It was clear Sars were up for this replay. Clear, too, there was hunger in their hurling and with tremendous performance from the likes of man of the match Paul Goggin at midfield, his brother Kevin and Conor Griffin in defence, and Kieran Murphy, Michael Kenneally and Gavin O'Loughlin up front, Erins Own were always fighting a losing battle.

And while Erins Own coach Mickey O'Connor was downhearted he was still gracious in defeat. "It's been a long hard few years for our players. To have won the county and now lost it doesn't seem right. But Sars were the better side over the two games. They looked sharper, we can have no complaints."

Yet Erins Own got the ideal start with points from Ciarán O'Leary and Kieran Murphy inside four minutes. But they were quickly reminded they were in a match with the perfect retort from Sars inside a minute. O'Loughlin's long delivery was taken majestically by Murphy and the full-forward, who had a terrific match, fired in a fine goal.

And it was a score that seemed to have a great settling effect on the Riverstown side for they never looked in danger subsequently. Mark Collins, Murphy with a couple of frees, and O'Loughlin powered them into a 1-4 to 0-2 lead after the opening quarter, with Goggin tremendous at midfield and brother Kevin rock solid at full-back.

Cian O'Connor was soon given the task of trying to curb the elusive Murphy, Shane Murphy switching to centre-back. But there was no stopping Sars. Murphy, who scored 1-6 in the first-half, continued to pick off the points from frees before O'Leary got Erins Own's first score for 19 minutes.

But the champions were always under pressure and wing back Griffin summed up Sars mood with a huge pointed free just before the whistle to put side into a commanding 1-9 to 0-4 interval lead.

Despite the strong breeze at their backs Erins Own still had a mammoth task on their hands. But there was going to be no heroics of last week as Sars, focused and lively, proved they had enough hurling to strip the Caherlag lads of their titles.

Kieran Murphy, now at centre-forward for Erins Own, did narrow the gap with a free but fired-up Sars proved they were the masters, with big Michael Cussen, Murphy with another free and Michael Kenneally with a gem of a point, stretching their led to 1-12 to 0-5 entering the final quarter.

There was still a fight left in Erins Own though. Pat Fitzgerald, Mark O'Connor with his second point, Shane Murphy with terrific effort, and Kieran Murphy with a free narrowed the gap. But it proved only token resistance. Sars Kieran Murphy's accuracy from frees - he finished with a personal tally of 1-10 - ensured there was only going to be one winner. And deservedly so.

Scorers: Sars: K. Murphy 1-10 (0-9 frees), M. Collins, G. O'Loughlin, C. Griffin (free), M. Cussen, M. Kenneally 0-1 each. Erins Own: K. Murphy 0-3 (frees), C. O'Leary, M. O'Connor 0-2 each, P. Fitzgerald, S. Murphy 0-1 each.

SARSFIELDS: A. Kennedy; R. Fahy, K. Goggin, D. O'Regan; C. Griffin, D. Kenneally, R. Duggan; P. Goggin, C. Mulvihill; M. Kenneally, M. Cussen, F. French; M. Collins, K. Murphy, G. O'Loughlin. Subs: S. Buckley for French, D. Gaine for Fahy.

ERINS OWN: S. Bowen; P. Fenton, S. Murphy, A. Lane; E. Lane, C. O'Connor, B. Poland; M. O'Connor, K. Murphy; D. O'Flynn, P. Fitzgerald, E. Murphy; C. Coakley, F. Murphy, C. O'Leary. Sub: R. Carroll for O'Flynn.

Referee: T. Geary (Lisgoold).

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