Bathshack Senior Hurling Championship Qualifier
Sarsfield’s 0-12 Ruairi Ogs 3-30
Ruairi Og, Cushendall ran riot at the Bear Pit on Saturday evening, proving much too strong for last year’s Intermediate champions, Padraig Sarsfield’s in this winner take all Senior hurling championship qualifier.
The Paddies battled hard to stay in contention and during the opening exchanges they kept within touching distance thanks mainly to midfielder, Kevin McKernan who scored four excellent points but after 20 minutes they trailed by four points with a Cormac McClafferty goal in the 9th minute giving the Ruairi Ogs the edge they were never to lose.
The visitors had opened strongly with points from McClafferty and Neil McManus in reply to one from Daniel McKernan giving them the lead by the fourth minute and it was a lead they were never to lose.
A point from play by Kevin McKernan and a pointed free by the same player in response to points from Conor Carson and Fergus McCambridge kept the home side very much in touch and they were battling ferociously for every ball.
Cushendall looked to be gaining control when Francis McCurry and Paddy Magill added further points but again the boys from the Bear Pit found a response as McKernan and Ryan Carson replied and when McManus pointed an 18th minute free the superb McKernan replied again directly from a sideline cut.
The Sarsfield’s management would have been delighted by their side’s performance at this point but the minutes leading up to half time would see the game gradually slip away from them. Cushendall were gradually getting on top and Fergus McCambridge, Neil McManus and McCambridge again extended their lead to seven by the 23d minute.
Once again Sarsfield’s hit back through the excellent Kevin McKernan but the Cushendall pressure intensified as they began to find space in the home defence with the mercurial Fergus McCambridge leading the way.
Neil McManus and Paddy Magill added to the visitors total before Aaron Stewart got his first of the night for Sarsfields but in a blistering finish to the half McCambridge fired home their second goal and a couple of points from Neil McManus saw them go to the dressing rooms with a fairly healthy 2-14 to 0-8 lead.
Any notion that Cushendall might take their foot of the pedal on the restart was quickly dispelled as they came racing out of the starting blocks as Cormac McClafferty, Neil McManus, Niall McCormick and McManus again from two pointed frees stretched their lead to 17 by the 38th minute and it was well and truly over as the visitors began to empty their bench. A task that already looked difficult for Sarsfields became impossible with the dismissal of Caolan Mervyn early in the second half.
Kevin McKernan replied from a pointed free in the 40th minute but McManus from a free and McClafferty from play continued to turn the Ruairi Og screw. Ryan Carson temporarily stopped the rut with Sarsfield’s second point of the half at the end of the third quarter but there was to be no let up from the sea siders.
Alex Delargy announced his arrival with an excellent point and Ryan McCambridge, Paddy Magill, Cormac McCafferty and Neil McManus added further points and McManus stepped up to drill a penalty to the net in the 53d minute as the flood gates opened.
Kevin McKernan from another free sent over Sarsfield’s third of the half but there was to be no let up as Alex Delargy, Neil McManus and Ryan McCambridge replied once more before McKernan had the final score of the game from a 59th minute free.
If this had been a boxing match it might well have been stopped with Cushendall, riding high in division 1 showing just too much skill, power and knowhow for a Sarsfield’s side who have had a tough first season back in division 2.
The Ruairi Ogs defence was tight and uncompromising with Paddy Burke, Francis McCurry, David Kearney and Eoin Campbell giving nothing away. Paddy Magill and Niall McCormick always held sway at mid-field while Neil McManus, Fergus McCambridge and Cormac McClafferty were best in a rampant attack.
Spare a thought for the losers. Sarsfield’s won division 3 and the Intermediate championship last season but with quite a number of last year’s side unavailable they have found life in division 2 harder than most had predicted.
They have suffered two heavy defeats in this year’s Senior championship to today’s opponents and to Dunloy but I have been at both games and, while they have been outclassed they have never thrown in the towel.
I believe they will be back next year challenging for division 2 honours and Intermediate Championship glory and on the day they had a superb keeper in David Ward who pulled off at least three spectacular saves.
Callin Caldwell, the superb Kevin McKernan, Ryan Carson, Daniel McKernan and Niall McAlea were other who caught the eye.
Sarsfields: David Ward, Peter Corr, James Cunningham, Jack Daniels, Eoghan Rodgers, Caillin Caldwell, Caolan Mervyn, Kevin McKernan, Darragh McGuinness, Ryan Carson, Daniel McKernan, Niall McAlea, Aaran Stewart, James McKernan, Tomas Doherty Subs: Kevin Ward for Peter Corr, Paul Carson for Aaron Stewart.
Cushendall: Conor McAllister, Sean Delargy, Paddy Burke, Stephen Walsh, Francis McCurry, David Kearney, Eoin Campbell, Paddy Magill, Niall McCormick, Conor Carson, Neil McManus, Ryan McCambridge, Cormac McClafferty, Donal McNaughton, Fergus McCambridge. Subs: Alex Delargy for Fergus McCambridge, Martin Burke for Fred McCurry, Stephen Walsh for Niall McCormick, Liam Gillan for Scott Walsh, Joe McCurry for Sean Delargy.
Referee: Darren McKeown (St. Gall’s)