County and Munster Champions OUt of Race
Provincial and County standard bearers Sarsfields were dumped out of the championship by a deserving and far hungrier Eire Og Nenagh side at The Ragg on Sunday evening.
The defending champions were in the All-Ireland semi-final in the spring, but they will also be in the second tier of the senior hurling championship for 2014 – the heavy price they pay for fragility in the current campaign.
Nenagh Eire Og were full value for their win mind and could have had the game wrapped up by half time had it not been for the brilliance of Patrick McCormack in goals who denied Paddy Murphy twice, Sean Geaney and Tommy Heffernan to keep his side in the game.
A first half of many talking points – one of the main ones being the red cards shown to Lar Corbett and Billy Heffernan after just four minutes. A scrappy melee developed after the initial exchanges and many of those who joined the set-to were very fortunate not be see cards also such was the freedom with which the hurls were employed. The red cards brandished to Corbett and Heffernan were brave given the timing and especially since the referee was going on the words of his support team.
Eire Og were predominitely to the fore and trailed only once when Stephen Cahill put Sarsfields in front in the 20th minute. Pa Bourke and Tommy Heffernan had initial points but Heffernan and Sean Geaney had scores to take the game to Sars’. Bourke responded with two before Cahill’s leader, but Kevin Tucker and Killian Gleeson, followed by Tucker again put Nenagh back in the driving seat.
It was all level by the half way mark with Stephen Cahill and Bourke coming good for a Sars’ outfit which had lost full back Kevin O’Gorman through injury, and were also without Denis Maher with a hamstring problem. Sarsfields had Padraic Maher at midfield for the game and he, along with Pa Bourke and the excellent Michael Cahill did all they could to keep their side in motion. But, the tactic of employing an additional defender backfired hugely with the attack left in sizeable deficit. Points from Kevin Tucker (2) and Paddy Murphy after the restart gave the Nenagh lads great heart and though Sarsfields were to bring the game back to a one pointer with 13 to go – the exchanges between Michael O’Brien and three from Bourke, and Paddy Murphy and Kevin Tucker – Thurles were struggling. Bourke was their main talisman up-front, but too many were failing to impact.