O’Neill’s ACHL Division 2
Sarsfields 0-12 Naomh Eanna 2-13
Naomh Eanna got back on the winning trail when they travelled to the Bear Pit last night and finally got the better of a Sarsfield’s side who have held the upper hand over them in recent years.
With the second phase of the league well on the way the compressed run of matches sees each team having four games in two weeks after no game since June, but putting that aside the rivalry between these two teams is in no way tempered and is as fierce as ever.
in recent years na Sáirséal have had the upper hand, the statistics showing wins in the league this year and championship and league wins last year, so the West Belfast team seem to have clear dominance.
The league match (round two) at the beginning of the year saw the visitors gain a one point advantage in the end, however their form has dipped since then and one of the early season favourites could now be looking over their shoulder with relegation a possible issue.
It’s Wednesday evening and the game beckons, the list of headaches for the management teams grow, no captain Cormac Jennings at mid-field and no Cúl báire Marty Curran added to the woes, holidays and work commitments also changed the team selection.
With the man in the middle Mark McDonald taking control in a wet and drizzly Páirc na Bear, the game was going to be hard fought, full of individual battles, as both teams needed points to avoid the drop.
As the game began Naomh Éanna clearly wanted to prove a point and thundered into the game. The game was halted due to a head injury to Conor McSteen but when the action resumed the direct running of Jack Arthurs was proving a problem for the Sarsfield’s full back line. Arthurs won an early free and from 20metres and Philly Curran opened the scoring for the Hightown side.
Ruairí Donaghy was on fine form and opened his account with a fine catch from the Sarsfield puck out and his shot from 50 meters deceived the Sarsfield’s defence and dropped to the net to give his side an early four point lead.
Jack Arthurs added a fine point from play with only six minutes played and the jinking and weaving Killian Jennings looked in for a second goal but shot wide in the wet conditions as Sarsfields breathed a sigh of relief. Both sides missed opportunities before the home side finally opened their account and another from a Dónall McKernan free left it 1-02, to 0-02 with sixteen minutes played.
Sarsfield’s were enjoying a period of ascendancy and McKernan added another free on twenty two minutes to close the gap to the minimum and it looked like we had a game on our hands. Philly Curran responded for Naomh Éanna to put two between the teams as both sides struggled to deal with the slippery conditions.
As the break approached and with two minutes plus injury time to be added, Dónall McKernan from play brought Sarsfield’s back to the bear minimum with a point from play however the visitors were to have the final say and Ruairí Diamond pointed from play to leave the score at half time 1-04 to 0-05).
Naomh Éanna opted to stay on the pitch for the break as the home side headed to their newly opened changing rooms and changes in personnel to the visitors side saw Daniel Lowry replace Jack Arthurs and it was to prove an inspired substitution.
From the throw in Naomh Éanna went on the attack and a long range free from Cormac Ross sailed over to extend their lead to three. McKernan replied for the ‘Paddies’ with a couple of good points to keep his side in touch but substitute, Daniel Lowry continued to cause problems for the home side as he pointed a 45 metre free to edge his side two in front again.
Sarsfield’s again closed the gap to the minimum but the introduction of Joe Maskey proved a huge boost for the visitors and an excellent Cormac Ross free from distance kept the scoreboard ticking over.
The tit for tat, nature of the contest showed no sign of abating and McKernan continued to show unerring accuracy from the placed ball and on forty five minutes he sent over to leave just one between these evenly matched sides once more.
Then came the turning point in the game and eventually the Naomh Eanna pressure on the Sarsfield’s full back line paid dividends and a simple mistake allowed Daniel Lowry to bat the sliotar to the net to open up a five point gap.
Further points from Ruairí Donaghy put six between the sides, and the visitors finished with a flurry to run out winners by seven and finally get the upper hand over a side that has been their nemesis in recent years.
Daniel Lowry for Jack Arthurs
Joe Maskey for Diarmuid Maguire
Eoin Maguire for Conor McSteen
Matthew Muldoon for Aidan McGowan
Tiernan Curran for Killian Jennings