Youghal did what was expected of them by making an excellent start, but after losing ground approaching half-time, their challenge as good as evaporated in the face of a strengthening Sars onslaught to which Cian McCarthy made a massive contribution with 14 points.
The fact that nine came from frees indicated a lack of discipline in Youghal’s play, which “shattered” manager Christy Cooney alluded to afterwards. It was obvious that they needed to be consistent and disciplined in their approach but their failure to do so cost them dearly.
Pat Ryan expressed the view that the scoreboard didn’t accurately reflect the way the game was fought out, commenting: “Youghal brought fierce intensity to it for the first 15/20 minutes. We weathered that to get a couple of scores and go in half time three points up. I think that was the winning of the game really.
“We are just delighted with the way the lads played — they played some very good hurling and got some very good scores. We gave a debut there to Paul Leopold who was our minor captain last year with the county winning team. He had an excellent game and that’s very good for us going forward.
“Cian McCarthy is a great leader of our team, we played him at the edge of the square but you can play him anywhere.”
Responding to talk about the retention of the title he had this to say: “To be honest we don’t even talk about that. It doesn’t even come into our reckoning. We’re just going out trying to do our best for Sars hurling club and it’s going well at the moment.”
For his part, Christy Cooney was at a loss to explain what went wrong. “We started great and we were four points to no score up and well in control of the game. We gave away too many frees in the first half and we just didn’t turn up in the second half. We were just flat. I don’t know why. Our preparations had gone great, but we just didn’t perform.”
Brothers Damien and Brendan Ring accounted for three of Youghal’s opening four points and, with Cork star Bill Cooper influential around the centre of the field, it was notable that they held the lead until the 21st minute when Cian McCarthy’s fourth free levelled scores at 0-6 each.
John Grace was excelling at full-back against McCarthy, and Brendan Ring was prominent in the half-forward line, but in the last 10 minutes of the half Youghal were struggling deep in their attack because of the covering of the Sars defence and the fact that Daniel Kearney, with continuous support from Eoin Quigley, had taken over from Cooper in the centre.
It was 0-10 to 0-7 at the break and within six minutes of the resumption the lead had been extended to seven points after a score from ex-Cork defender Conor O’Sullivan, who made a big impact at centre-back.
The longer the game went on, the more of a grip that Sarsfields exerted and Eanna Martin was outstanding at wing-back. Cian McCarthy’s free-taking from a variety of angles and directions was close to absolute perfection and he was more effective when he roamed from the edge of the square.
Youghal continued to put in an admirable effort, but they were fighting a battle that had been lost early in the second half and it showed in the eventual result.
C. McCarthy (0-14, 9 frees, 1 ’65); E. O’Sullivan and D. Kearney (0-3 each); G. O’Loughlin and K. Murphy (0-2 each); C. O’Sullivan, R. O’Driscoll, W. Kearney and L. Hackett (0-1 each).
B. Ring (0-3, 1 free); D. Ring (1 ’65) and C. O’Mahony (0-2 each); J. O’Mahony, B. Cooper, O. Dempsey (free) and A. Joyce (0-1 each).
A. Kennedy; T. Crowley, C. Leahy, W. Kearney; P. Leopold, C. O’Sullivan, E. Martin; D. Kearney, E. Quigley; D. Roche, G. O’Loughlin, E. O’Sullivan; T. Óg Murphy, C. McCarthy, K. Murphy. Subs: R. O’Driscoll for K. Murphy (45); R. Ryan for T. Óg Murphy (48); G. Grey for Leopold (51); L. Hackett for O’Loughlin (53); R. Murphy for McCarthy (54).
R. Cunningham; B. O’Sullivan, J. Grace, B. Ring; K. Walsh, C. Spillane, O. Dempsey; A. Frahill O’Connor (capt.), B. Cooper; B. Moloney, B. Ring, A. Joyce; C. O’Mahony, J. O’Mahony, D. Ring.
Nathan Wall (Carrigaline).