Sars dig deep to overcome the Glen
GLEN ROVERS 0-18
THE fact that Sarsfields had to dig deep to pull the game out of the fire probably made their victory all the sweeter in last Sunday's county senior hurling championship final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Their bid for a second title in three seasons looked likely to be derailed when they trailed by three points inside the last ten minutes, having been forced to play second fiddle to Glen Rovers for long periods in the second half.
They showed their mettle and resilience when the need was greatest to curb the Glen's momentum, however, edging home eventually thanks to a couple of late points from Tadgh Og Murphy and ace marksman Cian McCarthy, who was content to drill the ball over the bar from a penalty.
That brought McCarthy's tally to eight points, including seven from placed balls, several of which were struck from distance after the interval.
It was a massive contribution to Sars' triumph by McCarthy, and, even if he didn't have things all his own way in general play against Glen centre back Graham Callinan, it would be hard to quibble unduly about his selection as man-of-the-match.
There were a few other legitimate contenders, most notably Sars' Conor O'Sullivan, who turned in an absolutely flawless display at left corner back.
As well as completely snuffing out the threat from Glen corner forward Conor Dorris, O'Sullivan notched 1-1 from frees.
His goal was of the soft variety, with Cian McCarthy's attempt to connect on O'Sullivan's delivery from about 80 metres out distracting Glen custodian Cathal Hickey, who allowed the ball to trickle over the line.
That came in the 12th minute, and it pushed Sars 1-1 to 0-1 ahead, an advantage that didn't flatter them on the general run of the play up to that point.
Well on top
The truth is that they were well on top during the opening exchanges when Daniel Roche and Daniel Kearney were both to the fore at midfield, and Gary O'Kelly Lynch, Ray Ryan and Craig Leahy exerted a firm grip in the half back line.
Unfortunately for Sars, poor shooting, with Michael Cussen particularly culpable, prevented them from transferring their superiority to the scoreboard, and they had accumulated six wides before the crucial goal arrived.
Patrick Horgan opened brightly at full forward for the Glen, registering their first score from play in the 15th. minute.
Sars full back Joe Barry played Horgan well after that, although the service to the Glen's inside line was limited enough in the first half when Barry received significant support from his flankers Darren Kenneally and the ultra-efficient O'Sullivan.
At the other end, Sars lined out with Fraggie Murphy at full forward where he got little change from Stephen McDonald, who, along with wing back Brian Moylan, earned the main plaudits in the Glen rearguard before the break.
Cussen was picked up by the Glen's Paul O'Brien, who could count himself lucky that the big man's radar was off, but Shane Kennefick did well in the opposite corner against Sars' Robert O'Driscoll.
Remarkably, the Glen were back on terms, 1-4 to 0-7, by the 25th minute after Dean Brosnan and Brian Moylan shared a brace of points in quick succession.
Brosnan had been moved from wing forward in a bid to boost an ailing midfield which meant that Patrick Horgan's earlier point was the only score bagged by a Glen attacker from play in the first half.
That Sars' carried the greater threat up front was underlined when Gavin O'Loughlin, who proved quite a handful for Glen wing back Gavin Moylan, restored their lead with two good points to finish the first half with three to his credit.
After Cian McCarthy fired over a beauty in stoppage time, Sars turned over 1-8 to 0-9 in front, but they should have been much further ahead considering they clocked up nine wides and that the Glen didn't have a single shot off-target during the opening 30 minutes.
Cian McCarthy stretched the gap on the resumption, but the Glen became a transformed side in the third quarter when Dean Brosnan did much to improve their fortunes at midfield.
The decision to switch Daniel Roche to attack threatened to backfire badly for Sars, but he was reinstalled at midfield where he quickly impacted again, making a great catch to earn a free converted by Cian McCarthy.
That ended a twelve-minute barren spell for Sars, but the Glen had hit the front, 0-13 to 1-9, in the interim, and they clearly had the bit between their teeth.
Gavin Moylan, Graham Callinan and the excellent Brian Moylan were now going great guns in the half back line, David Cunningham was making life difficult for Sars' centre back, while Dean Brosnan was growing in stature at midfield.
The Glen's hopes of ending a famine stretching back to 1989 took on a very rosy hue after they forged three points ahead by the 51st. minute.
Roaming deep from full forward in the closing stages, Fraggie Murphy, fed by Michael Cussen, pulled a point back - Sars' first from play in the second half - a minute later.
Cian McCarthy quickly added another from a free, but the Glen were still looking good after David Cunningham made it 0-18 to 1-13 approaching the last five minutes.
Had the character
Sars had the character to haul themselves back from the brink, however, in a gripping conclusion to a final that took a long time to ignite.
Ice-cool Cian McCarthy cut the gap to the minimum from a free before the hitherto subdued Tadgh Og Murphy, now operating alongside Cussen in a two-man inside line, exploded into action up front to post two tasty points at either side of a Patrick Horgan wide for the Glen from a long range free.
Cussen, causing serious problems for Paul O'Brien in the closing stages, appeared to have settled the issue in the 59th minute when he latched on to a ball delivered following another great catch by Daniel Roche - who also merited strong consideration for the man-of-the-match accolade - to beat Cathal Hickey from close range.
But the referee called back the play to award Sars a penalty from which Cian McCarthy wisely opted to take an easy point.
Predictably, it was enough to seal a famous victory for Sars, leaving the Glen needing a goal to survive which, in view of the rock-like nature of the winners' full back line, was never really on the cards.
Scorers - Sarsfields: C McCarthy 0-8, 0-7 frees, C O'Sullivan 1-1 frees, G O'Loughlin and T Og Murphy 0-3 each, K Murphy and D Kearney 0-1 each.
Glen Rovers: P Horgan 0-10, 0-9 frees, B Moylan 0-2, 0-1 free, D Brosnan and D Cunningham 0-2 each, D Busteed and G Moylan 0-1
Sarsfields: A Kennedy, D Kenneally, J Barry, C O'Sullivan, G O'Kelly-Lynch, R Ryan, C Leahy, D Kearney, D Roche, T Og Murphy, C McCarthy, G O'Loughlin, R O'Driscoll, K Murphy, M Cussen. Subs, R Murphy for O'Driscoll (injured), W Kearney for O'Loughlin, P Ryan for O'Kelly-Lynch.
Glen Rovers: C Hickey, P O'Brien, S McDonald, S Kennefick, G Moylan, G Callinan, B Moylan, D O'Callaghan, D Cronin, D Goggin, D Cunningham, D Brosnan, C Dorris, P Horgan, R Whitty. Subs, D Busteed for Cronin, E Cronin for Whitty.
Referee - D Copps (Ballyhea).
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