Castlegar survive Sarsfields rally to clinch deserved win


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Castlegar survive Sarsfields rally to clinch deserved win Castlegar survive Sarsfields rally to clinch deserved win

Castlegar 1-16

Sarsfields 1-14

Alan Dooley in Kenny Park

Castlegar had to endure a nerve-wracking finale on Sunday evening in Athenry as Sarsfields came within inches of pulling off a remarkable comeback in a contest they had no right to be close to winning. This result gave Group 4 a good shake-up in the perceived order of which teams would progress and Castlegar were undoubtedly full value for their win.

Level at the break in the main thanks to a Cillian Callaghan goal, Castlegar bossed the second-half of this, the last game to take place in Kenny Park for 2023. Tigerish defending, quality full-forward play from Greg Thomas, and nerveless free-taking from Ger Farragher were at the heart of Castlegar’s best play, while Sarsfields were far from at their best and could only muster two scores from play in the second half.

Castlegar appeared to have the points wrapped up when Farragher glided onto an Oisín Connolly pass and flicked a shot over the bar to make it 1-15 to 0-14. The veteran celebrated appropriately, but Sarsfields have a history of pulling off unlikely comebacks and when Jeffrey Lawless won a 20m free in the 63rd minute, Kevin Cooney somehow managed to drive a low shot through the crowd.

Those who had made their way towards the exits were suddenly re-engaged, but Connolly won a massive free for Castlegar from a Farragher sideline, and this was brought in closer for dissent to make Farragher’s conversion routine. That was surely that, but there was no final whistle forthcoming from the resultant puck-out and Kevin Hynes bombed a massive delivery back into the Castlegar danger area.

John Cooney climbed highest to pluck the sliotar from the sky and was quickly surrounded which led to another free in when he hit the deck. Cooney stepped up again and Castlegar manager Eoin Hanniffy must surely have been thinking the worst, but to his relief his goalkeeper Liam O’Reilly made a quality save from a well-struck effort to deny Sarsfields.

A wintry downpour just before throw-in made playing conditions in the first half especially tricky, with only five scores registered in the opening quarter. Sarsfields landed four of these despite playing against the wind through Kevin Cooney (two frees), John Cosgrove, and Paddy MacCárthaigh as Castlegar struggled with their shooting at the other end.

Pictured: Sarsfields’ John Cooney tries to break through the massed Castlegar defence in Kenny Park last Sunday. Photos: David Cunniffe.

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