The lines of symmetry between the Glen’s storied past and current history were many entering yesterday’s decider. A quarter of a century had passed since last the famous three-toned jersey stood over the Sean Óg Murphy Cup. The vanquished force on that faithful afternoon donned navy and white.
As the Glen Rovers team emerged from the tunnel, Tomás Mulcahy, the winning captain in 1989, waved to the crowd. The stalwarts of the club’s 25th county title success broke from their line to pass on their best to the current crop. A tumultuous roar ensued from their supporters in the stand.
Return even to 1976, the Blackpool side overcoming Blackrock to secure victory in the maiden county final played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. And so 38 years later, here they stood, attempting to bookend history, the perfect swansong.
The romantics were ready and waiting to pen the return of the Glen, the successful recapturing of their heritage.
Cork hurling’s new order has little concern for tradition and romance.
Thus far but no further was the stark message delivered by Sarsfields. Driven by the hurt of last year’s final defeat, Pat Ryan’s charges crushed the Glen, suffocated their hurling. Merciless were the champions. Intelligent also.
Patrick Horgan, as has been all year, was the Glen’s go-to-guy yesterday. Twelve months ago, Conor Lehane shouldered similar responsibility for Midleton. Instead of man-marking the latter, instead of instructing Conor O’Sullivan to shadow his Cork teammate, Lehane was allowed cut loose. He finished with 2-10. Sars went home on their sword.
Horgan failed to score from play, failed to influence proceedings. Into the trenches Sars refused to go. This would not be a dogfight, this final would be played on their terms.
By the 10th minute, the Riverstown outfit had established a 1-3 to 0-1 advantage, stretching the gap out to 1-6 to 0-2 after 21 minutes. Forced to chase, the Glen were without a plan, without leaders. Three early wides from Horgan a sign of what was to come.
Tadhg Óg Murphy’s early goal would set the tone for the contest, finishing low to the net a sweeping move involving Eanna Martin, Kieran Murphy and Cian McCarthy.
The score originated from a Glen attack broken down at the Sars half-back line. Therein lay the story of the game.
Daniel Roche, Ray Ryan and Martin proved impenetrable across the forty, severing the supply lines to Horgan and Conor Dorris inside. Assisting the trio was Daniel Kearney, most effective in linking defence with attack. The quartet worked ferociously, choking key Glen operators such as Dean Brosnan and David Busteed.
Cian McCarthy (free) and Graham Callanan traded white flags following the contest’s opening major, Sars threatening ominously. Seven of the next eight scores arrived in their favour. 1-10 to 0-3 the interval difference. Gavin O’Loughlin (0-3), Cian McCarthy (0-2 frees), Kieran Murphy and Tadhg Óg Murphy all found the target, their half-forward line of O’Sullivan, O’Loughlin and McCarthy matching the tenacity and work-rate of their defensive colleagues.
Surely, the Glen spirit would surface at the change of ends? Tradition had to count for something. Horgan swatted his second free. The romantics dared to dream.
Cian McCarthy (0-2 frees), a rousing Daniel Kearney effort and an Eoin O’Sullivan strike, again the fruit of savage defensive work by Ryan and Eoin Quigley, put paid to whatever Glen revival was simmering. Game over and still 20 minutes left.
Horgan sniped two frees in the subsequent action and just when it appeared they were set to string a run of scores, substitute Shane Kennifick needlessly shoved Eoin O’Sullivan out over the sideline. Manger Richie Kelleher casts his eyes to the heavens. McCarthy converts the resulting placed ball effort.
Moments later, Kieran Murphy, now marshalled by David Dooling on the edge of the square, with Stephen McDonnell having gone to fight the flames further afield, fetches Michael Cussen’s delivery. Turn. Kick. Goal. The crowd of 12,925 head for home.
Cian McCarthy brought his tally into double figures at the death, a fourth title in seven years reward for such a complete showing. And so new order is firmly established — Sars reign on Cork’s hurling summit, peering over crushed empires below. The old world gone for good?
Scorers for Sarsfields: C McCarthy (0-10, 0-10 frees); K Murphy, T Óg Murphy (1-1); G O’Loughlin (0-3); E O’Sullivan (0-2); D Kearney (0-1).
Scorers for Glen Rovers: P Horgan (0-5, 0-5 frees); C Dorris, G Callanan, D Cronin (0-1 each).
SARSFIELDS: A Kennedy; W Kearney, C Leahy, C O’Sullivan; D Roche, R Ryan, E Martin; D Kearney, E Quigley; E O’Sullivan, G O’Loughlin, C McCarthy; C Duggan, K Murphy, T Óg Murphy.
Subs for Sarsfields: M Cussen for Duggan (34 mins), R Duggan for Quigley (51), R O’Driscoll for T Óg Murphy (53), G Grey for K Murphy (54), R Murphy for E O’Sullivan (56).
GLEN ROVERS: C Hickey; D Dooling, S McDonnell, G Moylan; D Noonan, B Moylan, G Callanan; D Cronin, C Healy; D Brosnan, D Cunningham, D Busteed; P Horgan, C Dorris, G Kennifick.
Subs for Glen Rovers: B Phelan for Busteed (HT), P Virgo for G Kennifick (HT), S Kennifick for Noonan (40), D Goggin for Brosnan (55), E O’Connell for Virgo (57).
Referee: N Wall (Carrigaline).
When 16 points is the difference at the end, it would be a foolish exercise to point to a single score or passage of play as the game’s defining moment. Crucial in moving Sars out of sight was their haul of four unanswered points in the six minutes leading into the break. It took the winners 1-10 to 0-3 clear by the interval and there was no return for the Glen.
Glen Rovers’ collapse. Sure, Sars were the better team and dominated in every line, but one expected the Glen to fight, to swim against the tide. It never came.
Patrick Horgan missing the first three frees he stood over. Wholly uncharacteristic and his early frustration would serve as a microcosm for the miserable afternoon that lay in store for the Glen.
Sarsfields’ half-back line were superb, cutting off the supply of ball filtering inside. That said, the performance of Daniel Kearney in front of Roche, Ryan and Martin was close to flawless. Kearney’s work rate was immense, providing the final pass for several Sars scores. A class apart.
Glen manager Richie Kelleher hauled off two of his forward unit at half-time, but the real problems lay further back and corrective surgery was required a lot earlier than the 40th minute when the first Glen defender was called ashore.
Referee Nathan Wall should have awarded Patrick Horgan a yellow card when booking Cian McCarthy on 49 minutes following a heated exchange.
Sarsfields play the winners of the Limerick final, Kilmallock or Na Piarsaigh, on November 9.