Andersonstown Social Club
Intermediate Hurling Championship
Cushendun 3-14 Sarsfields 3-19
Saturday August 10
Brendan McTaggart reports from Fr McGinn Park, Glenravel
When Kevin McKernan scored the Paddies third goal after teaming up with his younger brother Caolan, it looked like this game was over. 12 minutes to go and 11 points between the sides, Sarsfields could have been forgiven for thinking they had more than one foot in the next round.
It turns out they did have enough on the scoreboard but Cushendun pushed them to the pin of their collar in the final quarter. Goals from Harry Kilgore and James Morgan helped to bring the Emmet’s close but the Paddies and Niall McKenna weren’t to be denied in the opening match of the Intermediate Championship. The Sarsfields star finished the match with a tally of 1-13 in a man of the match performance for the men from the Bear Pitt. Seven of those white flags came from placed ball while his goal at the start of the second half was right out of the top drawer. Firing the sliotar into the top right hand postage stamp from distance and it signalled the start of a purple patch for his side.
With just two points between the sides at the short whistle, Sarsfields pulled away in the opening quarter after the restart. McKernan’s major came after another major from substitute Ryan O’Neill, meaning the Paddies had outscored last year’s Junior champions 3-4 to 0-3 in the same space of time.
Cushendun never lay down however and with Conor McHugh and Connlaoth McNeill on form, they fought to the final whistle. Five points was probably a fair reflection on the overall sixty minutes as the Paddies progress to a meeting with Tír na nÓg in the quarter-finals.
Sarsfields were more fluent and efficient with their use of the sliotar in the opening quarter and had a four point advantage built after 15 minutes. McKenna landing five frees of their opening six white flags, Caolan McKernan with the other. A brace of frees from Connlaoth ‘Loaf’ McNeill their only response.
David Kilgore landed the Emmet’s first from plat in the 15th minute and it signalled an awakening for his side. ‘Loaf’ reduced the gap to two points before Ryan O’Neill landed Sarsfield’s seventh point of the match with his first touch of the sliotar. Cushendun scored the first goal of the Intermediate championship in the 23rd minute when David Kilgore got on the end of along delivery from Niall McAuley, firing to the back of David Ward’s net.
Sarsfields edged the closing stages of the first half however. A brace from McKenna (one free) and points from Gary Lennon and Kevin McKernan in response to a fine score from James Morgan and ‘Loaf’s’ fourth point of the match left two points between the sides at the short whistle.
Sarsfields came out at the start of the second half and put daylight between the sides. Another free from ‘Loaf’ reduced the gap to one point but McKenna scored the Paddies first goal of the hour and what a goal it was. On the left hand side and with plenty to do, McKenna found the top corner with a sublime strike.
Cushendun responded well and ‘Loaf’ and David Kilgore landed points after Ryan O’Neill took the Sarsfields lead to five points but the Paddies went through the gears once again. A McKenna free in the 39th minute preceded their second goal. Caolan McKernan playing an inch perfect pass into the path of brother Kevin and he made no mistake. Pulling first time and beating Eoin Magee to give the west Belfast men a big advantage.
Cushendun were left with their Everest. A mountain to climb with 12 minutes of time remaining and they threw caution to the wind. They got a sniff when Harry Kilgore netted for their second major in the 49th minute, getting on the end of a long ball from Niall McAuley and a trio of points from substitute Pearse Bannon, Donal O’Hara and Conor McHugh gave the Emmet’s hope of making a dramatic comeback.
Niall McKenna split the posts to stop the rot for Sarsfields in the 57th minute but the Emmet’s struck for goal once more. ‘Loaf’ stood over a 21 yard free and while his effort was saved, no one could stop James Morgan from doubling on the sliotar in mid air and finding the back of the net. Three between the sides going into injury time and Cushendun had a sniff. Sarsfields had that bit extra in attack however and with Caolan McKernan and McKenna they have two lads capable of making something from nothing. Both splitting the uprights in the time that remained to ensure the Paddies progress with five points to spare.
In the end, the favourites to progress, progressed but a thought for Cushendun who after their heroics in the Junior championship last year came close to taking a major scalp in this years Intermediate championship. Paddies through to a meeting with Tír na nÓg in the quarters.
Cushendun: Eoin Magee; Sean Hamilton, Aidan Corbett, Jack McKay; Tom Scally, Donal O’Hara, Niall McAuley; Conor McHugh, Cavan McCormick; Harry Kilgore, Dominic McQuillan, James Morgan; Dominic Sharkey, Connlaoth McNeill, David Kilgore.
Subs: Eoin McQuillan for D Sharkey (28); Pearse Bannon for E McQuillan (39); Michael Dunne for D McQuillan (54).
Scorers: Connlaoth McNeill 0-7 (4 f’s); David Kilgore 1-2; James Morgan 1-1; Harry Kilgore 1-00; Conor McHugh 0-2; Pearse Bannon 0-1; Donal O’Hara 0-1
Sarsfields: David Ward; Malachy Campbell, James Cunningham, Kevin Ward; Niall McAlea, Gary Lennon, Jim McKernan; Jack Daniels, Kevin McKernan; Tommy Doherty, Darragh McGuinness, Ryan Carson; Brendan Gibbons, Niall McKenna, Caolan McKernan.
Subs: Ryan O’Neill for T Doherty (20); Mark Rea for B Gibbons (35); Caolan Caldwell for R Carson (42).
Scorers: Niall McKenna 1-13 (7 f’s); Ryan O’Neill 1-2; Kevin McKernan 1-1; Caolan McKernan 0-2; Gary Lennon 0-1;
Referee: Darren McKeown (St Galls)