Intermediate Hurling Championship Semi-Final
Sarsfield’s 1-18 St. Enda’s 0-14
Sarsfield’s advanced to this year’s Intermediate Hurling Championship final following a good win over a fancied St. Enda’s at Corrigan Park on Saturday night. A year ago the Glengormley side came mighty close to defeating Cloughmills in the Championship final, that game going to extra time before the ‘Biddies’ edged home and went on to claim the Ulster title.
Many felt that St. Enda’s had the ammunition to put that disappointment behind them this year as they went into Saturday’s semi-final against a Sarsfield’s side who have been turning in impressive performances themselves but right from the throw in it was the Stewartstown Road side who put down their marker.
They out thought, out fought and outscored the Hightown side over the hour buoyed by a goal in the opening minute which gave them a lead they were never to lose. A long distance free from Kevin McKernan dropped invitingly around the parallelogram and in the scramble that followed it was difficult to assert just who got the final touch but the sliotar ended in the St. Enda’s net.
John McGoldrick pulled one back for St. Enda’s and McGoldrick, who had been superb in St. Enda’s win over Armoy was again to prove the Glengormley side’s top scorer, scoring nine points over the hour but he was well marshalled by tight marking full-back James Cunningham.
Daniel McKernan restored Sarsfield’s three point advantage and the name McKernan was to figure prominently on the ‘Paddies’ score sheet with all four of the talented family playing a major part and by half time they had built up a substantial lead with Daniel McKernan 0-3, Donal McKernan and Kevin from a couple of superb sideline cuts leading the way.
St. Enda’s struggled for most of the half to get a foothold as they were out muscled for possession and were almost totally reliant on John McGoldrick who got all five of their first half points, two from frees and the momentum was very much with the men from the ‘Bear Pit’ as they made their way to the dressing room at half time.
Niall McAlea got his name on the Sarsfield’s score sheet with his first point of the game to extent his side’s lead to nine but points from John McGoldrick and Ruairi Donaghy by the 7th minute gave the Hightown men some hope, Donaghy the only player other than McGoldrick to have scored up to this point.
Daniel McKernan and Kevin McKernan replied with point for Sarsfield’s as he and Darrach McGuinness continued to dominate at mid-field. Killian Jennings and McGoldrick again kept St. Enda’s in touch by the end of the third quarter but it was clear, even at this stage they were going to need a goal to lift their challenge.
Instead it was the McKernan’s, Daniel and Kevin who provided the next two scores but St. Enda’s continued to plug away and John McGoldrick and Ruairi Donaghy 0-2 gave them renewed hope and cut the deficit to seven after 19 minutes.
Daniel McKernan, who was proving a real handful with his strong running and pace exchanged further points with John McGoldrick but as St. Enda’s went looking for that all important goal David ward in the Sarsfield’s goals brought off a couple of breath taking saves.
At this stage St. Enda’s opted to drop the ball into the danger area in search of a breakthrough but the Sarsfield’s defence, superbly marshalled by James Cunningham, stood firm forcing the opposition to feed of scraps with McGoldrick 0-2 exchanging points with Daniel McKernan and Gary Lennon to conclude the scoring.
An excellent win for Patrick Sarsfield’s and on the night totally deserved. They appeared much more up for the contest from the outset, winning the majority of the 50/50 exchanges and they had match winners all over the field.
David Ward in goals was superb under the dropping ball and brought off two quite excellent saves in the second half while James Cunningham, Jack Daniels, Caolan Mervyn and Caillin Caldwell were outstanding in a water tight defence.
Kevin McKernan from play and from placed balls gave an exhibition of free taking while Daniel McKernan, Niall McKenna and Donal McKernan were best in a lively attack who all got their names on the score card. And therein lay St. Enda’s problem. They were almost totally reliant on John McGoldrick for scores.
The big number 14 didn’t disappoint but too often he was forced to live of scraps with only Ruairi Donaghy and Killian Jennings joining him with second half scores. Manus Mullan, Cormac Jennings and Cormac Jennings were others who caught the eye for the Hightown side.
Sarsfield’s celebrations were somewhat muted owing to an injury to their county player, Niall McKenna who was forced to retire with a suspected dislocated finger and the Stewartstown Park side will be hoping that the injury will not rule him out of the final.
Sarsfield’s: David Ward: Peter Corr, James Cunningham, Jack Daniels: Michael Callaghan, Caolan Mervyn, Caillin Caldwell: Kevin McKernan, Darragh McGuinness: Daniel McKernan, Niall McKenna, Niall McAlea: Donal McKernan, James McKernan, Gary Lennon. Subs: David Johnston for Niall McKenna and Tommy Doherty for Niall McAlea
St. Enda’s: Paul Magill: Philip Curran, Johnny McPoland, Manus Mullan: Ruairi Diamond, Joseph Maskey, Edward O’Connor: Cormac Jennings, Cormac Ross: Darrach Cooper, Ruairi Donaghy, Cillian Jennings: Philip Curran, John McGoldrick, Brendan Cormican. Subs: Aidan McGowan for Darrach Cooper and Daniel Lowry for Killian Jennings.
Referee: Aidan Kelly (St. John’s)