“It’s great to get back to winning ways, another championship match under our belts,” said manager Pat Ryan; “We knew Blackrock would be up for it. Our plan was to start fast and we did that. I think the two early goals we got kind of killed the game as a contest. Once you get ahead by that much, it’s very hard for a team to come back.”
The goals spoken of by Pat came in the third and ninth minutes, the first from Tadhg Óg Murphy when he pounced on Alan Long’s save of Cian McCarthy’s shot, the second from veteran Kieran ‘Fraggie’ Murphy, capitalising on one of a multiple of fine catches by giant full-forward Michael Cussen.
Those goals put the champions of 2008 and 2010 five points clear (2-1 to 0-2) but they were only warming up. Over the next 17 minutes it was all Sars, 1-8 without reply (late call-up William Kearney with the third goal) to leave them 16 points ahead, 3-9 to 0-2 in the 26th minute.
Two minutes of madness then by centre-forward Ger O’Regan left Blackrock facing oblivion, two wild pulls resulting in first a yellow card, then a straight red.
Down to 14, down by 15 points at the break (3-9 to 0-3), even with the big wind behind them in the second half there was simply no way back for Blackrock.
The second half was a truly turgid affair. Everyone in the ground knew the game was over, everyone on the field knew likewise, but still there were 30 minutes to be played out.
It didn’t make for pretty viewing, not even for Pat Ryan, watching what was once the greatest hurling club in the nation being reduced to this. “In fairness to Blackrock they’re like we were in 2007 and 2008 after winning county minor titles, they’re battling to come back up.
“They have a lot of very good young fellas but you can’t lose the likes of John and Alan Browne, Fergal Ryan and expect to replace them overnight. They were top-class players but Blackrock will come again. Look at young Stephen Murphy (first-half sub), I thought he was brilliant when he came on — they have a lot of good talent coming through.”
They also have Wayne Sherlock, still a magnificent defender, outstanding here again. “Wayne is Wayne,” said Pat; “We don’t have guys like him, Ben O’Connor, Brian Corcoran very often — I don’t think we fully appreciated them when we did have them. Those kind of players don’t come around too often.”
A goal and four points was all Sars bothered to score in the second half, Cussen with the goal, while Blackrock managed another three points.
Not much of a workout for Sars, especially not with reigning champions Carrigtwohill next up, on Saturday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh again.
Kind of strange — wait 17 weeks between games, then have them come one on top of the other. No problem, reckoned Pat. “As long as we won I didn’t care if we were playing again on Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night — as long as we keep winning, we don’t care when we play.
“It’s a big game, and to be fair to Carrig I don’t think they got the credit they deserved when they won it last year. They have a very good side, some great players, some great people involved with them as well.
“They’re county champions, we’re going out to try to dethrone them.”
Scorers for Sarsfields: C McCarthy 0-6 (3f, 1 65); W Kearney 1-1; K Murphy 1-1; M Cussen 1-0; T Óg Murphy 1-0; E O’Sullivan 0-3; E Quigley 0-2.
Scorers for Blackrock: P Deasy 0-2; K O’Keeffe 0-2 (2f); S O’Keeffe, R Dineen 0-1 each.
SARSFIELDS: A Kennedy; D Kenneally, J Barry, C O’Sullivan; D Roche, R Ryan, E Martin; E Quigley, D Kearney; W Kearney, C McCarthy, T Óg McCarthy; E O’Sullivan, M Cussen, K Murphy.
Subs: R O’Driscoll (K Murphy 41); G O’Loughlin (T Óg Murphy 41); C Leahy (Ryan 50); R Murphy (McCarthy 50); G O’Kelly (W Kearney inj. 52).
BLACKROCK: A Long; W Sherlock, E Cantwell, R Laide; B Ahern, G Norberg, K Murphy; R Dineen, E O’Farrell; S O’Keeffe, G O’Regan, P Deasy; D Cashman (c), M Ryan, K O’Keeffe.
Subs: S Murphy (O’Farrell 21); D O’Shea (S O’Keeffe 44); A Murphy (Laide 44); C O’Leary (K O’Keeffe 49); B O’Keeffe (Ryan 49).
Referee: C Lane (Banteer).