As well as bridging a 13-year gap since their last league victory, they proved worthy winners in a contest that produced a high standard of hurling.
Following a disappointing championship campaign, Sarsfields boss John Crowley was delighted to finish the year on a positive note.
“It is a nice end to our year. It is not what we set out for. But it is a nice prize. It provides a platform for next year. You can see the talent is there. If we can get a few breaks and a small bit of luck, God knows what we could achieve next year.
“Nobody is ever going to doubt the lads’ ability. They are incredible hurlers, they are fanatics actually. You go down the pitch any night of the week and they are practising sidelines or hitting frees. That will be continued throughout the winter.
“At the start of the year we set out to win every game. By winning as many games as we did, we got here today. It is a lucrative prize when you look at the financial benefits as well. Over the last few years with the sponsorship it is certainly a trophy you would want to be winning.”
The Midleton goal came in injury time, but a largely youthful side have the county U21AHC final to look forward to.
In contrast, Sarsfields bagged their goals at critical times – Michael Cussen’s effort on seven minutes helped settle the nerves and Tadgh Óg Murphy opened up a five point gap around the same juncture in the second half.
The sides were tied 0-2 apiece when a fine piece of individual skill by Cussen put Sarsfields into the lead. He collected from Daniel Roche but near the endline he managed to keep the ball in play and to his credit found the net although closely marked. However, Midleton soon regained the lead with points from Paul Haughney, Conor Lehane, Stephen Moore and Luke O’Farrell.
Sars’ reply was instant. Superb point taking from Cian McCarthy, Roche and Eanna Martin and with five minutes to the break they were back in the lead, 1-7 to 0-8 .
Midleton could have been ahead though as two goal chances were thwarted – Alan Kennedy saving from Aidan Ryan while Lehane’s attempt was wide. Sarsfields had their woes too when a penalty from McCarthy was capably dealt with.
Sarsfields held the slimmest advantage at the break, 1-8 to 0-10. It was not until Murphy kicked to the net on 39 minutes that the gap widened. Leading 2-12 to 0-12 they were now in control. Centre-back Ray Ryan was excelling in a very solid back line and Daniel Kearney was conspicuous around the middle. Amid an industrious forward unit, McCarthy, Roche and Cussen were menacing.
Paul Haughney fired over a couple of points for Mideton but the final quarter was all Sarsfields with Cussen, Kearney and McCarthy to the fore. Leading 2-17 to 0-14, Aidan Ryan’s overhead pull found the net in stoppage time but it came far too late to influence the result.
Scorers for Sarsfields: C McCarthy 0-8 (0-5 frees), M Cussen 1-1, T Óg Murphy 1-0, D Roche 0-3, E Martin 0-2, D Kearney, G O’Loughlin and C Smith 0-1 each.
Scorers for Midleton: C Lehane 0-6 (0-4 frees), A Ryan 1-0, P Haughney 0-3, S Moore and L O’Farrell 0-2 each, S O’Farrell 0-1.
SARSFIELDS: A Kennedy; D Kenneally, C Smith, C O’Sullivan; G O’Kelly Lynch, R Ryan, C Leahy; D Kearney, E Martin; G O’Loughlin (Capt), C McCarthy, D Roche; P Barry, M Cussen, T Óg Murphy.
Subs: E O’Sullivan for E Martin (44 mins), R O’Driscoll for P Barry.
MIDLETON: T Wallis; P O’Mahony, D Ryan, K Burke; F O’Mahony, J Nagle, P O’Shea; S O’Farrrell, P O’Keeffe; K Mulcahy, A Ryan (Capt), C Lehane; L O’Farrell, S Moore, P Haughney.
Subs: P White for K Mulcahy (51), P Barry for S Moore (59).
Referee: J O’Connell (Lisgoold).