Sarsfields 0-16 Erins Own 1-13: What should have been the championship’s marquee fixture, one to give Cork hurling an esteem boost, instead turned out to be a mediocre affair with holders Sarsfields just about hanging onto their title – at least for another six days.
Sars can thank Cork senior player Daniel Kearney for showing alertness and skill to convert the equaliser on 60 minutes while they might still have snatched a winner when Cian McCarthy stood over a free 75 metres from goal deep into injury-time only to see his mishit effort fall well short.
The large attendance might have been expecting a game to set the championship alight but derby games tend to be tense, hard-fought affairs, and this instalment didn’t veer too far from that script.
The contest did, however, spark to life in last 10 minutes – Erins Own coming very close to a second goal and Cian McCarthy seeing his well-struck penalty brilliantly saved by the long-serving Shay Bowen before Kearney’s inspired intervention and McCarthy’s late miss.
This period also saw a high challenge around the neck on impressive substitute Robbie O’Flynn by Ray Ryan – then on a yellow – go unpunished.
The closeness of the exchanges saw the sides level on 11 occasions – though Erins Own will be disappointed that they didn’t kick on after Eoghan Murphy smashed home a 43rd minute penalty. But it was Sars who registered three of the next four points.
Daniel Kearney proved the game’s standout performer followed closely by Robert O’Driscoll and Erins Own’s Shane Murphy while 2015 Cork minor Robbie O’Flynn proved he is one for the future for both club and county.
Kearney’s work-rate, stick-work, stamina, ball placement and scoring ability lit up an otherwise ordinary encounter. Individual battles caught the eye, notably the joust between Cormac Dooley and Cian McCarthy, the former doing an excellent job in keeping the latter scoreless from play.
Then again McCarthy’s high fielding and ability to win frees and bring those around him into the game were important factors in his side’s ability to chisel out a draw.In a low-key first half Robert O’Driscoll caught the eye with three points by the 12th minute, profiting from Sars’ slicker stick-work and movement.
But Erins Own were able to reply to every O’Driscoll point with scores of their own through Mark Collins and two from the evergreen Eoghan Murphy.
Driven on by the excellent Shane Murphy at centre-back, and Cathal O’Mahony at wing-back, Erins Own’s tactic of direct, long and high deliveries into their inside forward line was, by and large, proving profitable. Eoghan Murphy kept his side in the hunt with unerring accuracy from placed balls while Sars had the broader spread of scorers with Eoin Quigley, Paul Leopold and Cian McCarthy getting in the act. The sides retired level at the break on 0-8 apiece.
The introduction of Robbie O’Flynn at half-time added an edge to Erins Own’s play and his tussle with Ray Ryan proved one of the game’s other talking points. O’Flynn landed a beauty on 34 minutes to push his side 0-10 to 0-9 in front, and Erin’s Own started to believe that a win was possible.
In the 41st minute, Alan Kennedy had to be alert to divert a long-range goal effort from the hard-working Mark Collins. Minutes later, the Sars custodian was adjudged to have fouled Cian O’Callaghan in the square.
Up stepped Eoghan Murphy who drove an unstoppable shot to the top right corner for a 1-11 to 0-12 lead. Despite a fine effort from Stephen Cronin, Sars quickly accumulated points through Cian McCarthy (2) and a beauty from the ever-industrious Daniel Kearney.
It was 1-13 to 0-14 entering the last seven minutes. Shay Bowen brought off a brilliant save to deny Gavin O’Loughlin in the 57th minute before Kieran ‘Fraggie’ Murphy was hauled down inside the square by Dooley.
Up stepped McCarthy but his low drive was tipped over the bar by Bowen before Kearney’s late intervention meant the sides will have to meet again to decide who plays Glen Rovers in the final.
Scorers for Sarsfields:
C McCarthy (0-6f); R O’Driscoll (0-3); D Kearney (0-2); E O’Sullivan, E Quigley, D Roche, P Leopold, T Óg Murphy (0-1 each)
Scorers for Erins Own:
E Murphy (1-10, 1-0 pen, 0-7f, 0-1 65); M Collins, S Cronin and R O’Flynn (0-1 each).
A Kennedy; T Crowley, C Leahy, W Kearney; C O’Sullivan, R Ryan, E Martin; D Kearney, P Leopold; E O’Sullivan, E Quigley (capt.), D Roche; R O’Driscoll, C McCarthy, T Óg Murphy.
G O’Loughlin for Roche(41); K Murphy for Leopold (47); L Healy for T Og Murphy (51); C Duggan for O’Driscoll (53)
S Bowen; C O’Connor, C Dooley, K Murphy; S Cronin, S Murphy (capt.), C O’Mahony; M O’Carroll, S Kelly; K Murphy, C Coakley, M Collins; C O’Callaghan, E Murphy, A Bowen.
R O’Flynn for Coakley (ht); S Horgan for O’Callaghan (49); A Power for O’Carroll (53).
D. Copps (Ballyhea)
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