No question Sars picked up on the momentum they showed against Blackrock in winning this Cork SHC quarter-final clash so handsomely. They were sharp and well clued in throughout, though, in fairness to Carrigtwohill, they hung on determinedly in the opening half and only trailed by four points at the break. Key for Sars was a fabulous halfback trio of Eanna Martin, Ray Ryan and Daniel Roche. There were no slouches behind them either, and, with Daniel Kearney outstanding at midfield, the Sars forward division got plenty of supply, and were constantly buzzing.
Cian McCarthy was the scorer in chief with a fabulous 1-9 (1-4 from play) contribution; Gavin O’Loughlin justified his selection ahead of Tadhg Óg Murphy, scoring four fine points, and Michael Cussen was always a nuisance on the edge of the square on an evening nine Sars players hit the target.
Sars boss Pat Ryan was pleased, though cautious ahead of what looks like a mouth-watering semi-final against CIT next weekend. “We have a lot to work on still to get back to where we were before losing out last year to Newtownshandrum. Remember, before 2011 we were in three finals in-a-row.
“Carrig were great champions and played with heart and pride, you don’t win titles for nothing. We led by four points at half-time, but we knew the game was far from over and needed to step things up. And we did, we showed what we can do in the second-half and I’m delighted with that.”
From the moment O’Loughlin gave them a first minute lead, Sars never looked back, though Niall McCarthy and Noel Furlong did have chances to put Carrigtwohill ahead. McCarthy did equalise but once Cian McCarthy goaled in the sixth minute, after Michael Cussen’s effort had been blocked, it was full steam ahead for the Riverstown men.
Carrigtwohill were never able to lift their game to last year’s heady heights. True Michael Fitzgerald and Jason Barrett, who scored four fine points, kept them ticking over, but Cian McCarthy and a long Conor O’Sullivan free eased Sars five points clear after 20 minutes.
In fairness to Carrig, they battled, as champions do, but got a bad break in the 22nd minute when referee James Dorgan whistled when Niall McCarthy was steaming down on goal. Michael ‘Da’ Fitzgerald’s pointed free was poor consolation as Sars went on to dominate the half with points from Eoin Quigley and O’Loughlin to lead 1-8 to 0-7 at the break.
Sars were electrifying in the second-half. Carrig keeper William McCarthy had to be brave to deny both Cussen and O’Loughlin goals almost from the restart, but once Cian McCarthy fired over the resulting 65, Sars were on their merry way.
Cussen missed another goal chance in the 34th minute, after Furlong had been robbed, but with Daniel Kearney and Ray Ryan calling the shots, a disappointing Carrig side were all at sea and well off the pace. Tadhg Óg Murphy came into the action in the 38th minute, replacing William Kearney, and showed what he could do with two fine points as Sars continued to boss the action.
Niall McCarthy did have a trademark super over his shoulder point from near the stand sideline for Carrig, but it was only token defiance as Sars went on to lead 1-14 to 0-8 entering the final quarter.
Carrig keeper McCarthy had to be smart again to deny Kieran Murphy a goal in the 47th minute, but, with Cian Mac pointing the 65, Sars were 1-17 to 0-10 clear with 10 minute remaining. Then some defiance from the champions as Furlong’s tantalising free was hammered to the net by Fitzgerald. Not to be outdone, however, Sars were at it at the other end, this time Cussen setting up Fraggy Murphy for their second goal in the 54th minute. The final scoring act went Carrigtwohill’s way, a cracking goal from substitute Steve Kidney, but this East Cork derby battle was all about Sars who now look the team to beat.
Scorers for Sarsfields: C. McCarthy 1-9 (0-3 frees, 0-2 65s), G. O’Loughlin 0-4, K. Murphy 1-0, T. Óg Murphy 0-2, C. O’Sullivan (free), E. Quigley, W. Kearney, M. Cussen and R. O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
Scorers for Carrigtwohill: M. Fitzgerald 1-2 (0-2 frees), J. Barrett 0-4, S. Kidney 1-0, N. McCarthy 0-2, T. Hogan (free) and R. White 0-1 each.
SARSFIELDS: A. Kennedy; D. Kenneally, J. Barry, C. O’Sullivan; E. Martin, R. Ryan, D. Roche; E. Quigley, D. Kearney; W. Kearney, C. McCarthy, G. O’Loughlin; K. Murphy, M. Cussen, E. O’Sullivan.
Subs: T. Og Murphy for W. Kearney (38), R. O’Driscoll for E. O’Sullivan (48), C. Leahy for Martin (53), C. Duggan for K. Murphy (55), R. Murphy for O’Loughlin (58).
CARRIGTWOHILL: W. McCarthy; P. O’Sullivan, R. Power, A. Garde; C. O’Connell, N. Furlong, M. O’Riordan; L. O’Sullivan, D. O’Mahony; S. Dineen, J. Barrett, R. White; T. Hogan, N. McCarthy, M. Fitzgerald.
Subs: S. Kidney for Hogan (38m), B. Lordan for O’Mahony (45).
Referee: J. Dorgan (Nemo Rangers).