Last year’s success has given this Sars outfit the necessary belief that they can put back-to-back titles together, but there is still a lot of hurling to play which includes a quarter-final clash with Na Pairsaigh before that happens.
On the evidence of this magnificent performance the Riverstown side will be favourites to retain their crown, but a lot will depend on how they wear that hat as this is a very young team still learning its trade.
Ballinhassig played with the aid of the strong wind in the opening half and drew first blood when Declan O’Sullivan pointed a 40 metre free in the second minute.
Given the strength of the wind — and it was very strong blowing straight down the field — Ballinhassig needed a sizeable half time lead if they were to have any chance of dethroning the champions.
It appeared to be all going according to plan as they forged 0-3 to 0-1 in front after 10 minutes, but a general tightening up in defence by Sars, coupled with Cian McCarthy sparkling in attack had Sars level by the 12th minute before the evergreen Pat Ryan gave them the lead for the first time with a splendid point from an acute angle.
Ballinhassig struggled alarmingly after their early scoring burst and went 15 minutes without a score despite the wind advantage.
In contrast Sars scored nearly in every attack and grabbed the game’s opening goal in the 16th minute when Gavin O’Loughlin’s shot came back off a defender to the lurking Kieran Murphy who finished it to the net.
Sars were in the driving seat and a succession of points which included a third by the impressive Cian McCarthy, had them comfortably in front at 1-7 to 0-3 after 20 minutes.
Ballinhassig were thrown a lifeline with three points in a row before Brendan Lombard set up Fintan O’Leary for a goal which left four points between the sides coming up to half time.
Unfortunately tempers frayed and the referee was forced to issue three yellow cards for unsavoury incidents. At the break, the defending champions went in leading 1-10 to 1-6 and turning to play with the wind.
Sars used the wind advantage well on the change over and with Pat Ryan ruling the roost at midfield, they tacked on three quick points.
Ryan had a penalty saved by Mick Ahern as Sars piled on the agony for Ballinhassig but a switch which saw Fintan O’Leary swap places with Brendan Lombard had the desired effect as O’Leary raced 50 metres before blasting to the Sars net for a splendid individual goal.
However the Blues failed to build on that score as Sars continued to knock over points at will and when Daniel Roche set up the superb Cian McCarthy for a goal, there was no way back for Ballinhassig who did manage a third goal by Shane McCarthy which helped to put some respectability on the final scoreline.
Scorers for Sars: P Ryan 0-8 (0-5 frees, 0-1 65); C McCarthy 1-5; T Og Murphy 0-4; K Murphy 1-0; M Cussen 0-3; R Murphy 0-2; R O’Driscoll 0-1.
Scorers for Ballinhassig: F O’Leary 2-1; D O’Sullivan 0-4 (0-1 free, 0-1 65); S McCarthy 1-0; S Dineen, M Ahern (65), B Lombard 0-1 each.
SARSFIELDS: A Kennedy; R Ryan, J Barry, C O’Sullivan; D Kearney, D Kenneally, G O’Kelly; P Ryan, W Kearney; R Murphy, K Murphy, C McCarthy; R O’Driscoll, G O’Loughlin, T Og Murphy.
Subs: M Cussen for O’Loughlin (35); D Roche for O’Driscoll (50)
BALLINHASSIG: M Coleman; P Brennan, E Finn, M Desmond; B O’Sullivan, M Ahern, K O’Sullivan; D Brennan, S McCarthy; S Dineen, B Lombard, D O’Sullivan; P O’Sullivan, F O’Leary, D Dineen.
Subs: Stephen McCarthy for P Brennan (30); P Coomey for D Dineen (40); M Collins for K O’Sullivan (45).
Referee: D Copps (Ballyhea).