By Kevin Herron at St. Mary’s CBGS
Sarsfields claimed Antrim’s last vacant Féile hurling spot with a 0-04-0-03 win over Brid Og in the final of Sundays all-county C blitz at St. Mary’s CBGS on Sunday morning.
Six teams battled it out for the last remaining spot on a scorching morning on the edge of Black mountain with the sides separated into two groups of three.
Last week’s beaten B finalists Sarsfeilds made a winning start on Sunday with a low scoring 0-04-0-00 victory over Rossa in a tightly contested first game.
Daniel Smyth claimed two of his side’s points with the others coming from Anthony McGarrigle and Ruairi McAreavey as the Stewartstown side laid down an early marker.
Brid Og meanwhile took on St John’s in the first game of their group and the beaten B semi-finalists were comfortable 6-03-1-00 winners over St John’s.
Carl Mooney claimed a brace of goals and team mates Anthony McKenna, David Prenter, Cormac Barnes and Thomas Graham also found the net – Prenter (0-02) and Fintan Cleary added their side’s point – while St John’s goal came courtesy of Donal Gray.
Brid Og assured themselves a spot in the decider with a 3-08-1-04 win over beaten North Antrim B finalists Con Magee’s Glenravel.
Conor Duffin found the net for Con Magee’s early on with Cormac McKeown adding a point – however Brid Og demonstrated their ruthless streak as Fintan Cleary claimed a brace of goals and Niall McDonnell also hit the net.
Cleary was top scorer and added three points – one from play, a converted 65’ and a converted free, while Nially Duffy (0-01), David Prenter (0-01), Brian McGurk (0-02) and Carl Mooney (0-01) completed the scoring for the first of the finalists – Caolan Lennon conjured up three further points for Con Magee’s.
The Glenravel lads would end their day with a win over St John’s however – Caolan Lennon, Fergus Donaghy, Conor Duffin and Eamon Carey all found the net in a 4-05-2-04 win against the Corrigan Park side – with two converted frees from Lennon and (0-03) from Cormac McKeown completing the scoring.
Donal Gray was again amongst the goals for the Johnnies and ended the game with 1-02 for his efforts, Conall McKinney hit the second and points from Ciaran Grieves and Luke Loughlin completed the scoring for the Corrigan Park outfit.
With Brig Og already assured of a place in the final all eyes turned to Sarsfields group – the Stewartstown side were able to rest up after their win over Rossa as Lámh Dhearg took on the boys from the Shaws Road.
Lámh Dhearg made the better of the early running’s and took the lead through an Adam Murray goal – Murray popped the ball over the bar a few minutes later before Ronan Armstrong flicked the ball to the net and the Hannahstown side were 2-01-0-00 to the good. Diarmuid Rogan converted a free for Rossa who trailed by two goals at the break.
Conall McGuigan opened the second-half scoring with a point and Lámh Dhearg had their third goal of the contest after Adam Murray pulled on Donal Davey’s short free and Lámh Dhearg were 3-02-0-01 ahead.
McGuigan hit his second point before Shea Fegan combined with Murray who scored his third goal of the game.
Aidan McCague finished the scoring for his side with three successive points – the third after a superb block down from Ciaran McLaughlin as Lámh Dhearg ran out 4-06-0-01 winners to set up an eagerly exciting winner take encounter with Sarsfields to determine who would take on Brid Og in the final.
Although the clash between Lámh Dhearg and Sarsfields failed to live up to expectations as Sarsfields physicality saw them run out 3-02-0-00 winners to book their place in the final.
A slip from Rhys Camlin allowed Oisin O’Colmain capitalise and find the net before Caolam Donnelly scrambled in a second.
Daniel Smyth added two points from converted frees and in between those scores Sarsfields claimed their third goal through full-forward Tiernan Ward and the Stewartstown side were into the decider.
Sarsfields and Brid Og met in the South Antrim Féile B semi-final and it was the Stewartstown side who edged a tight encounter at the Bear pit.
Sundays C final would shape up the same way as the sides matched each other score for score.
David Prenter was upended wide on the right and Fintan Cleary opened the scoring from the subsequent free to give Brid Og the lead – and after Fintan Cleary went short from another opportunity, Brian McGurk saw his shot tail wide.
Niall Duffy almost had the first goal of the final but for a stunning save from Sarsfields goalkeeper Andrew McStay who turned the ball behind for a 65’ which was missed by McGurk.
Daniel Smyth ensured the game was level and on a knife-edge at the break – converting a free to make it 0-01-0-01.
Fintan Cleary made use of an advantage played by referee Mark McDonald as Brid Og edged ahead again, though their lead would last a mere sixty seconds as Daniel Smyth converted his second free of the final to draw Sarsfields level again.
Cleary edged Brid Og ahead for the third time just after the midway point in the half – but another free gave Smyth the opportunity to level and Sarsfields number six obliged in doing so to make it 0-03-0-03.
It looked as though extra-time may be required to settle another intriguing encounter between the sides but on the stroke of full-time Sarsfields were awarded another free just in front of the posts and Smyth stroked it over to give his side the lead for the first time in the final.
Brid Og couldn’t recover and Sarsfields celebrated at the full-time whistle and booked their place in Galway for the Féile hurling finals along with Loughgiel and St Galls on the weekend of June 8th