Sarsfields men spring a surprise thanks to lively show

Padraig Pearses Jimmy Gelston comes under pressure from Sarsfields Niall Quinn during Sunday's senior hurling championship quarter-final at Kenny Park. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.
Padraig Pearses Jimmy Gelston comes under pressure from Sarsfields Niall Quinn during Sunday's senior hurling championship quarter-final at Kenny Park. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Sarsfields 2-14

Pádraig Pearses 0-12

FOR the third time in four years Pádraig Pearses have exited the senior hurling championship at the quarter final stage as a determined Sarsfields outfit swept them aside with a classy first half display on Sunday. Early goals from Ian Fox and Alan Ward were pivotal moments and Sarsfields were able to comfortably defend their lead in a disappointing second period.

At various points of the contest, Sarsfields were able to afford to go eight, ten, and even 13 minutes without a score, but they had done the damage in the first third of the match when outscoring Pearses by 2-7 to 0-3 after falling behind early. Outsized physically in many areas, Sarsfields relied on clever movement of their forwards, who rotated seemingly at will.

It was too much for Pearses, who had stationed Cyril Donnellan at centre half back from the off, but his impact on the game was minimal as Joseph Cooney kept him occupied while others picked off the scores. Pearses even drew back a sweeper to attempt to close off the spaces, but this just allowed Sarsfields’ Cathal Murray to play as a spare man and he did so with aplomb.

Allied to a half back line of Kevin Hynes, Niall Quinn, and Ronan Quinn who were hurling with an intensity and accuracy that Pearses couldn’t match, it was evident from a long way out that Pearses would have it all to do to compete. Unfortunately for them they were unable to raise their game, and a niggly second half concluded with a large scale brawl that saw Pearses’ Tommy McDonagh red carded.

Their frustrations were obvious and understandable, as they had come into the contest with arguably the better form. Sarsfields, though, were buoyed by the return of Joseph Cooney, Kerrill Wade, and Ian Skehill from injury while Galway minor Ian Fox, listed as a substitute, started to telling effect at midfield alongside Thomas Spellman.

It was Pádraig Pearses, though, who started in smart fashion as Colm Raftery fired over the opening score with just 15 seconds played. Cyril Donnellan then won a free that Tomas Flannery converted well, but Sarsfields had drawn level by the five minute mark as Niall Morrissey drove over a long range free before Noel Kelly grabbed a point from closer in.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.