Cork SHC quarter-final
Champions Sarsfields set up an intriguing clash with neighbours Erin’s Own following victory over Imokilly in this Cork SHC quarter-final clash at sunny Cobh on Saturday.
The outcome of this derby was the one generally anticipated, but it was testament to the stubborn resistance of the divisional side (drawing from nine clubs) that they were never out of contention.
Even in the closing minutes Imokilly hadn’t given up hope, when goalkeeper Declan Dalton, who had contributed four points, tried for a goal from a 50 yards free and they forced two consecutive ‘65’s before referee Joe Larkin blew the final whistle.
As winning manager Pat Ryan remarked, an impressive start by Sarsfields proved crucial.
With Eoin O’Sullivan setting the standard after a mere 20 seconds with the first of three points, Cian McCarthy and Robert O’Driscoll each hitting two and the other coming from Conor O’Sullivan, they led 0-8 to 0-2 after just 12 minutes.
Imokilly recovered to be just a point in arrears eight minutes later but that would be the nearest they would get.
“I was delighted with our fellows, I thought they showed fierce hunger. And we started very well, which we haven’t been doing in championship and league games, even challenge games.
“They brought a huge intensity to it and we set the standard for the first 10 or 15 minutes.” But he warned: “For the semi-final, we’ll be moving up a gear, that’s the plan. We didn’t go back (training) until late and the idea is that you’d be picking up at this time. The championship doesn’t happen until September!”
Imokilly manager Fergal Condon accepted the reality of their situation, saying: “in fairness their experience told in the end. We would feel we are in development.
"We had a lot of young fellows out there. I think we can be strong going forward, but today, we couldn’t complain. Sars were well up for us and they deserved their win.”
Notably, Sars had a chance of a goal following their eighth point but Eoin Quigley, who had started well at centre- forward, had a good shot stopped by Declan Dalton.
And that was their only chance of getting the ball in the net until early in the second-half when a good move ended with Tadhg Óg Murphy batting the ball outside the post. With Conor O’Sullivan and Eanna Martin especially effective at wing-back, the champions established a strong base in defence before Imokilly began to settle.
Willie Leahy as to the forefront at centre-forward, Billy Dunne probing in the corner while Brian Lawton got in some good work in opposition to the excellent Daniel Kearney.
However, it was noteworthy Cork players Paudie O’Sullivan and Seamus Harnedy in particular were not very involved. O’Sullivan gave leadership when the ball came his away (and contributed four points) but starting at full-forward, Harnedy was starved of possession.
Three points clear at the interval, 0-12 to 0-9, Sars again forced the pace on the resumption. The margin was never closer than three points and helped by superb free- taking from Cian McCarthy, they enjoyed a seven point advantage after 52 minutes.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Declan Dillon was also very reliable with long-distance frees (scoring three in total, along with a ’65) and with Paudie O’Sullivan showing up well at stages and Brian Lawton continuing to win ball around the middle of the field, Imokilly stuck rigidly to their task.
However, Sarsfields always had the capacity to raise their game to meet the challenge and their combination play was a key feature of their display.
The game was in its closing stages when Harnedy threatened a goal after winning a ball in the air under pressure, but he was hauled down and it led to Sars having full- back Craig Leahy sent off after a second yellow card.
And with Dalton’s goal attempt foiled, Sars advanced to an intriguing East Cork derby in the semi-final.
C. McCarthy (0-8, 7 frees); E. O’Sullivan (0-5); R. O’Driscoll (0-3); C. O’Sullivan (0-2); E. Quigley and D. Kearney (0-1 each).
D. Dalton (3 frees, 1 ’65) and P. O’Sullivan (2 frees), (0-4 each); W. Leahy and B. Lawton (0-3 each); N. Motherway and B. Dunne (0-1 each).
A. Kennedy; T. Crowley, C. Leahy, W. Kearney; C. O’Sullivan, R. Ryan, E. Martin; D. Kearney, P. Leopold; D. Roche, E. Quigley (capt.), E. O’Sullivan; R. O’Driscoll, C. McCarthy, T. Óg Murphy.
K. Murphy for Quigley (47); G. O’Loughlin for Roche (65).
D. Dalton (Fr. O’Neills); B. Ó Tuama (Castlemartyr, capt.), C. Barry (Castlelyons), K. Histon (Cobh); T. Geaney (Carrig na Bhfear), C. O’Brien (St. Ita’s), T. Carroll (Castlelyons); B. Lawton (Castlemartyr), D. Cahill (Cloyne); P. O’Sullivan (Cloyne), W. Leahy (Aghada), N. Motherway (Dungourney); J. Looney (Aghada), S. Harnedy (St. Ita’s), B. Dunne (Fr. O’Neills).
N. O’Leary (Castlelyons) for Carroll (37); A. Stafford (Aghada) for Looney (42).
Joe Larkin (Douglas).