Lavey end Sarsfields Ulster dreams


Pic by Joe Carberry

Sarsfields 2-17-3-16 Lavey

By Kevin Herron

Five goals inside the opening seventeen minutes set the tone for a thrilling game that Sarsfields came out the wrong side of, as the Stewartstown Park sides dreams of Ulster Intermediate glory were ended by Derry champions Lavey on a score line of 3-16-2-17.

In truth it was very much an epic shoot-out between free takers Kevin McKernan and Paddy Henry of Lavey, Henry outscored McKernan 0-09-0-08 on the free front in a game which saw both sides reduced to fourteen men as Chrissy Henry and Callin Caldwell were shown red-cards in either half.

Both sides were evidently nervy early on and it took five minutes for the opening score to arrive and it was a dream start for Antrim champions Sarsfields as Gary Lennon’s short shot was flicked to the net by Jim McKernan to settle his side’s nerves.

Lavey replied instantly as Chrissy Henry picked out the darting run of half-forward Cailean O’Boyle who advanced and fired past David Ward to make it a goal apiece after six minutes.

There was barely enough time for the crowd at Davitt Park to catch their breath before the green flag as raised again, Niall McKenna floated a dangerous ball on top of Lavey goalkeeper Michael Taggart and the Derry men’s defensive frailties were exposed again through Thomas Doherty who got the faintest of touches upon McKenna’s delivery to make it 2-00-1-00.

Liam Murphy and goal scorer O’Boyle landed the opening two points of the contest to reduce the deficit to the bare minimum, but Kevin McKernan let fly with an effort which sailed over the bar to make it 2-01-1-02 after ten minutes.

Lavey then survived another hairy moment as scorer of the opening goal; Jim McKernan saw his low shot come back off the inside of the post and out to safety.

In the aftermath Ben Dodd’s reduced arrears again and on twelve minutes the sides were level thanks to a converted Paddy Henry free.

McKernan and Henry traded the next two scores from placed balls and just after the midway point in the half, Lavey seized a firm grip on the contest.

On 16 minutes a free flowing passing move in Sarsfields box saw Liam Murphy pick out the run of Cailean O’Boyle who flicked the ball goal wards and corner-forward Sam Dodd’s made sure of the goal was an unopposed flick into the net to move his side 2-05-2-02 ahead.

Within a minute the Derry champions were on the front foot again and Dodd’s picked out Cailean O’Boyle who hammered low into the corner of the net past David Ward to give Lavey a 3-05-2-02 lead.

McKernan led Sarsfields response with a converted free and in the aftermath the Stewartstown Park men were given a boost when Lavey’s Chrissy Henry upended McKernan. Having already been booked a clash between the pair inside the opening sixty seconds, referee Aidan Ferguson showed Henry a second yellow card and a subsequent red as Lavey were reduced to fourteen men.

Paddy Henry restored his side’s six-point lead however, landing a fabulous point from play. The sides then traded scores through McKernan; who slotted over after some fine work from Jack Daniels and a free from Henry in response.

The McKernan show continued as Kevin converted free and Daniel became the third McKernan on a score sheet for Sarsfields, conjuring a fine score from range. Sam Dodd’s responded with a point before the break for Lavey as the Derry champions led 3-08-2-06 despite their numerical disadvantage.

Within a minute of the restart the player count was level after Sarsfield’s Callin Caldwell was adjudged to have struck out at Ben Dodds off the ball and was subsequently shown a straight red-card by Ferguson.

In a double whammy for the Paddies, Paddy Henry converted the resulting free to increase Lavey’s lead.

Kevin McKernan [free] and Daniel McKernan landed the next two scores reduce arrears to four-points, though Cailean O’Boyle popped the ball over the bar to make it a five-point game once more, 2-08-3-10.

The pendulum would shift in favour of Sarsfields in the aftermath of O’Boyle’s 36 minute point, and in the space of just over ten minutes the sides were locked on level terms at 2-14-3-11.

Kevin McKernan was behind the majority of the damage, converting four placed balls with the other two points coming from Jim and Daniel McKernan. In between times Paddy Henry converted a free though Lavey were playing second fiddle and the momentum was firmly with the Paddies.

The Antrim champions couldn’t get themselves in the driving seat however and Conor Dillon converted a 49th minute free to give his a one-point lead.

McKernan replied at the other end from the placed ball to level for the fourth time in the contest, but with five minutes to go Paddy Henry kept his nerve and converted his sixth free of the afternoon to edge his side 3-13-2-15 ahead.

McKernan landed his eighth placed ball of the contest in response and both sides’ main men would trade further scores in the aftermath as Henry nudged his side ahead from a free; McKernan landed a wonderful score from play in response to level affairs with injury-time looming.

In the final minute of normal time Sarsfields gave away yet another scoreable free, from which Henry made no mistake. There was to be no response on this occasion however as Lavey turned David Wards resulting puck out over and went back on the attack, another free came to fruitarian and Henry scored the last of his ten points.

The Derry county star spurned a further free in the dying embers of injury-time but it proved irrelevant as his side ran out 3-16-2-17 winners at the end of an absorbing game in Lurgan.

Although Sarsfields will feel incredibly disappointed that they failed to advance they can hold their heads high in a year that has saw them seal promotion back to Division two and land their first championship crown in 43-years.

As many as eleven of Sarsfields hurlers will now focus firmly on their sides Ulster Junior Football Quarter-final with Cavan champions Ballymachugh at Breffni Park next Sunday (12.45 throw-in) while Lavey will look forward to their Ulster final clash with Armagh champions Middletown.

Sarsfields: D Ward, P Corr, J Cunningham, J Daniels, D Johnston, C Mervyn, C Caldwell, K McKernan (0-13,0-08f), E Rodgers, D McKernan (0-02), N McKenna, N McAlea, J McKernan (1-01), G Lennon, T Doherty (1-00). Subs: Donal McKernan for J Cunningham (22 mins).

Lavey: M Taggart, E McGill, D McPeake, S Lagan, A Toner, D O’Neill, S McGill, C Dillon (0-01), P Henry (0-10,0-09f), C Murphy , C O’Boyle (2-01), R Farren, L Murphy (0-01), B Dodds (0-01), S Dodds (1-01). Subs: N Toner for L Murphy (31 mins), M Drumm for S Dodds (45 mins), R Farren for A Toner (53 mins), K O’Neill for B Dodds (56 mins).

Referee: Aidan Ferguson (Fear Manach)

Pics by Joe Carberry 

Sarsfields untroubled as they seal semi-final spot


Pics by Joe Carberry

AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship

Castleblayney Faughs 0-11 Patrick Sarsfield’s 1-27

Antrim champions Sarsfieds booked a place in the semi-final of the AIB Ulster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship  when they coasted to victory over Castleblayney Faughs in Sunday’s quarter final at St Mary’s Park Castleblayney.

Despite having to make a series of changes before the throw in the Belfast men were untroubled by the Monaghan champions as they scored a comprehensive nineteen point win to book a semi-final place in two weeks’ time. The raft of switches had no detrimental effect on the Paddies performance as they sprung from the traps in impressive fashion with points from Kevin McKernan, Niall McAlea and Niall McKenna but the home team came back with a point from Brian McGuigan on seven minutes and one from a free by corner forward Fergal Rafter.

However it was clear the Belfast boys were taking a firm grip on the game and after Garty Lennon pointed to put them two clear Daniel McKernan fired the ball to the Blayney net when he connected well in a goalmouth scramble to give goalkeeper Connolly no chance.  Kevin McKernan increased his team’s lead to five on twelve minutes after a bad foul on his brother Daniel which saw Finnegan lucky to escape with just a yellow card, but the gap was down to four again soon afterwards when Faughs midfielder Mark Treanor fired over. The score was cancelled out by Sarsfields Daniel McKernan who soloed clear of the opposition to fire over to put five between them again but Faughs were proving tenacious opponents and Fergal Rafferty cut the gap back to four with another well struck point.

The Faughs replied with a great point from midfielder Mark Treanor, but his effort was matched by Daniel McKernan, who fired over for Sarsfield’s at the other end after a brilliant solo run.

Soon afterwards Ward in the Sarsfields goal was called upon to deny full-forward Byrne who went for goal wen a point might well have been the best option and as it worked out it was to prove the Monaghan champions last chance to get back into the game as the Paddies hit eight points without reply in the final ten minutes of the opening half, four from Kevin McKernan and four from Niall McKenna to help their team to a 0-4 to 1-8 lead at the break.

Two Daniel McKernan points early in the second half stretched the Antrim champions lead to ten but they appeared to lose concentration as they failed to raise another flag for all of 18 minutes. The chances were there for them to add to their tally but some wayward shooting let them down as the game lost its competitive edge. Castleblayney’s hopes of getting back into the game were not helped when centre back Finnegan was shown a red card for a pull on Daniel McKernan. Blayney did manager to close the gap when Brian McGuigan found the target  but it only spurred Sarsfields to up their game and they hit a series of fine scores between then and the final whistle, the best of them a Kevin McKernan special direct from a sideline cut as the Stewarstown Park side booked a semi-final place with nineteen points to spare.

CASTLEBLAYNEY: D Connolly; B Connor, J McHugh, N Glancy; C McNally, P Finnegan, J Deasy; P Treanor, M Treanor 0-2; S Forde, B Flanagan, B McGuigan 0-2; F Rafter 0-6 (0-6fs), H Byrne 0-1, N Adair.

Subs: C McBride for Deasy (HT), D Crowe for McNally (HT), B Connolly for Connor (35mins), P Malone for Adair (39mins), J Carville for Forde (43mins).

SARSFIELD’S: D Ward; P Corr, J Cunningham, K Ward; D Johnston, E Rodgers, J Daniels; K McKernan 0-11 (0-5fs, 0-1 sideline), D McGuinness; Daniel McKernan 1-3, N McKenna 0-8, N McAlea 0-1; J McKernan 0-1, G Lennon 0-1, T Doherty 0-2.

REFEREE: T Conway (Derry)

Pics by Joe Carberry

Sarsfields v Carey – The captain’s view

Belief the key for Paddies captain

By Brendan McTaggart

Caillin Caldwell wrote his name in Sarsfields folklore on Saturday afternoon by captaining the Paddies to the Intermediate championship and breaching a 43 year gap for the club from their last piece of hurling championship silverware.  After receiving the trophy, the Sarsfields Captain told us that his sides confidence coming into the match was built upon their brilliant league campaign: “It was terrible conditions and we had to dig deep.  We were very confident coming into the game and obviously the conditions were poor but we knew from the word go that we were the better team with having the unbeaten run throughout the year.  We were confident that we could continue our unbeaten run.”

The Paddies were put onto the backfoot in the opening moments of Saturday’s final after Cathal McAuley’s goal.  Caldwell gave us an interesting view on the start to the match when he told us: “We just plugged on.  We knew it was a fluke but that’s hurling.  It was very unlucky on our behalf and lucky on theirs but we knew that if we backed ourselves we could get the scored to get over the line.”

The conditions certainly didn’t help either side when it came to their styles and Caldwell told us that he was pleased how his side reacted to the changing circumstances: “It was tougher for the younger, lighter guys but the older and bigger guys stood up when they were needed today but I thought it was a real team performance today and all 15 players that started and subs used contributed to a great victory.”

Just three points separated the sides at the interval and Caldwell added that the message was clear at half time: “There was no panicking at half time.  Some guys were getting worked, me included, up with the adrenaline but once we knew that if we got our heads in the right place and remained cool, calm and collected that we would be get over the line.  We’ve known nothing but winning this year and we wanted to keep it that way.”

It could be the first step in a historic duo for the Paddies and Caldwell told us that they are confident of delivering: “Football next weekend and hopefully we can make it a double.  This one’s for the fans as much as it is for the players, they’ve been brilliant all year and if we win next week then history will be made.

“We have a lot of dual players but we’re young, fit and very confident.”

0 - Captains

Sarsfields captain Cailin Caldwell and Carey captain Nathanial Hunter with match referee Colm Cunning before the Intermediate Hurling final in Armoy. Pic by John McIlwaine

Hunter has no complaints

Carey Captain Nat Hunter was a broken man leaving the Armoy ground.  He stood by his team as Sarsfields Captain Caillin Caldwell gave his speech and lead them off the pitch when he was finished.  Leading from the front as he has done all year for the Faughs.  He told us of his obvious disappointment and where he felt the match got away from them: “It’s very disappointing.  We thought we were coming into this game today as the hungrier team and better prepared but obviously Sarsfields were the better team on the day.  They showed more hunger and they were more disciplined than us.  I think that’s what got them over the line.”

After scoring a goal with just two minutes played and presented with another major chance when Cathal McAuley was fouled for a penalty, the Faughs Captain told us that he felt McAuley electing for a point from the penalty was the correct decision: “We got the dream start and I think that with it being so early on that the point was the right option from the penalty with the conditions.  It was the right decision at the time.  The better team won on the day, we thought we were better prepared than we were but we’ve got a young panel coming up through and we’ll be back again.”

Just three points separated the sides at the interval and Hunter told us that his side needed to be more clinical in the opening exchanges after the restart: “We came out at half time thinking that if we could get the first couple of scores then we could put them under pressure but we missed a couple of frees and a couple of chances came and gone.  Maybe if we got them then it would have been a different story but they were more clinical in the end under the conditions and we can have no complaints.”




McKernans to the fore as Sarsfields bridge 43 year gap

Intermediate Hurling Championship Final

Patrick Sarsfields 0-16 Carey Faughs 1-7

0- Sarsfields v Carey 12

Kevin McKernan punches air after sending over a Sarsfields point. Pic by John McIlwaine

By Brendan McTaggart

43 years.  A long time in any man’s books and more than a lifetime for many of those in attendance at Armoy on Saturday afternoon but by 4:20pm they were made to wait no more.  Sarsfields, county champions.  1973 was the last time the Paddies tasted success at the Intermediate level before going on and taking senior honours the following year and on Saturday evening they broke their duck.  Six points separated the Paddies and Carey after a tense battle played in horrible conditions in Armoy. To be honest the score line flattered the Faughs as Sarsfields were dominant, in the second half in particular, but a series of wides and missed opportunities meant that the Faughs were always in with a shout.

Just one point separated the sides with 15 minutes to go, largely down to the profligacy of the Sarsfileds attack but the McKernan brothers, Kevin and Daniel stepped up the tempo when it was most needed.  The duo had been a thorn in the side of Carey for the majority of the match but they, along with Niall McKenna and Darragh McGuinness were immense in the closing stages as the Paddies turned the screw.  Carey fought hard throughout the hour and once again, James ‘Rocket’ Black was a shining light for the men from Ballyvoy.  Rocket was played in a number of positions throughout the hour and played a main roll in a lot that was good in the Carey men.  James McCouaig was superb in defence while Cathal ‘Doog’ McAuley was always dangerous on the edge of the Paddies square.

The Faugh’s were reduced to 14 men with nine minutes remaining, their excellent full-back Sean McBride getting the line for a second yellow card but the writing was already on the wall at that stage for Carey.

With Donal McKernan unable to start the final with a leg injury, Sarsfields gave a Eoghan Rodgers a place in the starting 15.  Rodgers lined out in the corner forward berth but was Rockets shadow throughout the game, anywhere the influential Carey man went, Rodgers wasn’t too far behind.

With the weather worsening at the throw in, it looked like the heavy underfoot conditions would suit the Faughs and in the early exchanges that appeared to be the case as the boys from Ballyvoy got off to the dream start.  The match was only 90 seconds old when the Faughs scored the only goal of the game.  Sarsfields ‘keeper David Ward failing to clear a ’65 from Black that hung in the wind, McAuley pulling the lose sliotar to the back of the net.  The start they would have hoped for and the start that many neutrals would have been keen to see.  Despite Carey playing in a league above the Paddies in 2017, Sarsfields started the match as strong favourites.  Game on.

Daniel McKernan showed his pedigree when he opened the Paddies account with the next attack of the game but Carey’s dream start almost changed to a fairy-tale for the men from Ballyvoy when they were awarded a penalty in the 4th minute.  Again, it was McAuley who was causing the Sarsfileds defence problems.  The Carey full forward collected the sliotar before being bundled to the floor inside the square.  Match referee Colum Cunning awarded the Faughs a penalty which McAuley took himself, electing to drive the sliotar over the bar, much to the relief of the Sarsfields faithful, a decision that baffled most of the Faughs followers.

It was a reprieve for Sarsfields, in hindsight maybe going for goal with less pressure and in the circumstances was better option for Carey and the Paddies took full advantage.  They scored four unanswered points thanks to efforts from McKenna, Darragh McGuinness and two Kevin McKernan frees to take the lead and while Black replied for the Faugh’s, Sarsfields were well on top, scoring another trio of scores to lead by three in the 22nd minute and banish any memory of their nightmare start.  McKenna, Kevin McKernan and Niall McAlea raising the white flags for their side.  McAuley and Kevin McKernan traded frees in the closing stages but the Sarsfields midfielder should have put daylight between the sides in first half injury time.  Through on goal, Steven McGinn produced a superb save to deny the Paddies and while McKernan was also first to the rebound, his grounds stroke somehow managed to spin wide with the goal at his mercy.

The Faugh’s made a bright start to the second half with McAuley landing two more frees to take his tally to 1-4 for the match to leave the minimum between the sides and while Sarsfields always looked dangerous in attack, they were struggling to find their range.

The Paddies had goal chances, twice they were denied with referee Cunning calling a square ball on Gary Lennon on both occasions while the Sarsfields full forward brought the best out of McGinn in the 40th minute but a superb score from McKenna after a strong run was all they had to show for their efforts in the opening exchanges of the second half.


A long range point from half back Jack McBride brought Carey to within touching distance once more but Sarsfields found another gear when it mattered most.  Five unanswered points in as many minutes from the 46th minute put them firmly in control, Kevin McKernan with his fifth and sixth points of the final with Daniel McKernan (twice) and substitute Donal McKernan helping to open a six point gap with ten minutes remaining.

The Carey challenge hit a major road block when full back Sean McBride received his second yellow card soon after and while the Faughs never slackened in their pursuit of glory, Sarsfields proved to be a step too far.  McAuley and McKenna exchanging frees in the closing stages to leave six points between the sides at the full time whistle.

It’s another final defeat for the Faughs who have been knocking hard on the door for the last few years, it seems it’s only a matter of time before they make the breakthrough while the Paddies go on to represent Antrim in the Ulster championship and will be hoping that Saturday’s silverware will be added to when their football counterparts take on St Pat’s of Lisburn in the Junior football decider next Saturday.

Sarsfields: David Ward; Peter Corr; James Cunningham; Jack Daniels; Michael Callaghan; Caolan Mervyn; Caillin Caldwell; Kevin McKernan; Darragh McGuinness; Daniel McKernan; Niall McKenna; Niall McAlea; James McKernan; Gary Lennon; Eoghan Rodgers

Subs: Donal McKernan for M Callaghan (35 mins)

Scorers: Kevin McKernan 0-6 (2 frees); Niall McKenna 0-4 (1 free); Danial McKernan 0-3; Darragh McGuinness 0-1; Niall McAlea 0-1; Donal McKernan 0-1

Carey: Steven McGinn; Eoin Hill; Sean McBride; Daniel Hill; Michael McVeigh; James McCouaig; John McBride; Kevin Murphy; James Black; Shea Hunter; Nat Hunter; Martin Hunter; Peadar McVeigh; Cathal McAuley; Sean McLoughlin

Subs: Fiachra McVeigh for K Murphy (HT); Gerard McBride for S McLoughlin (50 mins); Daniel McBride for J McBride (inj)

Scorers: Cathal McAuley 1-5 (0-1 pen, 4 frees); James Black 0-1 (1 free); John McBride 0-1

Referee: Colum Cunning (Dunloy)

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