A fitting end to the Cork Premier 1 U-21 hurling championship at the 4G pitch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday, with Sarsfields and Midleton serving up a thrilling end to the season.
Two outstanding teams, loaded with talent, served up a cracking game but it was unfortunate for Midleton, who also lost year’s decider after extra-time to Fr O’Neill’s.
The teams were level 11 times, but two late goals for Sarsfields decided the outcome before a large and enthusiastic crowd.
Sarsfields captain Jack O’Connor struck in the 52nd minute but the outcome still hung in the balance. In fact, Midleton had struck back and were two points up in stoppage time only for the outstanding Liam Healy to fire the winning goal in the 62nd minute.
“I don’t know how he is not on the Cork panel,” said Sarsfields manager Ray Ryan: “Liam is so brilliant and so brave; so strong in the tackle; so intelligent; a super striker of the ball.”
Healy notched 1-9 and alongside him Daniel Hogan was another to catch the eye, bagging five points from play.
“Daniel Hogan is a 17-year old. His family were due to fly out to Lanzarote yesterday morning and himself and his older brother Ross, who is injured, and his mother, all cancelled their flights and will fly out Monday morning. That is the kind of stuff that makes a club,” added Ryan.
From the outset, this match had everything. Midleton, who had to wait five weeks for the game while Sarsfields had a full schedule the last few weeks, showed no signs of rustiness.
They were a point behind after quarter of an hour but a strong finish to the half that included points from Tommy O’Connell, Garan Manley (2) and Pádraig O’Brien put them 0-10 to 0-9 up at the interval.
On the restart, the teams continued to trade points and at the threequarter mark it was 0-15 apiece.
Midleton replied to O’Connor’s goal through Ross O’Regan, Manley and Kian Farmer and took the lead at the end of normal time but Healy’s late strike means Sarsfields regain a title they last held in 2017.
L Healy (1-9, 0-3 frees, 0-1 65), D Hogan (0-5), J O’Connor (1-1), B Graham (0-2).
G Manley (0-10, 0-7 frees), T O’Connell (0-5, 0-1 free), K Farmer (0-3), S Quirke, S O’Meara, P O’Brien and R O’Regan (0-1 each).
C Looney; D Barry, K Crowley, K Walsh; S O’Driscoll, K Roche, K Murphy; C Darcy, C McCarthy; J O’Leary, L Healy, D Allen; J O’Connor (Capt), B Graham, D Hogan.
D Walsh for D Allen (half time inj), A Hackett for J O’Leary (50), S Garvey for S O’Driscoll (55).
A Power; C O’Brien, S O’Sullivan, A Daly; E Moloney, S O’Leary Hayes, C Gunning; S Quirke, T O’Connell; S O’Meara (Capt), K Finn, R O’Regan; K Farmer, G Manley, P O’Brien.
A Mulcahy for K Finn (37), T O’Sullivan for P O’Brien (50).
Joe Larkin (Ballinora).