Clonoulty-Rossmore’s hopes for a first county under 21 A hurling title were blown out of the water by a slick Sarsfields outfit at Holycross on Sunday.
The Mid men claimed their place in the final courtesy of a ten points winning margin.
The West champions went into this game with some confidence following impressive showings in the divisional campaign but on the day they had no answer to the pace and quality of the Sarsfields performance, with Sarsfields captain Aidan McCormack leading by example with a whopping sixteen points, five from play.
The Mid and county champions will play Kilruane MacDonaghs in the final this week-end.
Short two of their regulars at the start, Patrick Hennessy and James Ryan(W), due to injury, Clonoulty-Rossmore, as one would expect of them, battled hard all the way but while the margin of defeat was unkind to them, they could not argue with the outcome. Sarsfields were the better team, with more quality in their side, but had Clonoulty played to their full potential, the contest could have been much closer.
The West champions’ difficulties were underlined when, after playing with the fresh breeze in the first half, they trailed at the interval by four points (0-8 to 0-12). Some slack finishing, and a glaring goal chance spurned on the stroke of half time, did not help their cause against a Sarsfields fifteen who combined very well, were intelligent and economical in their use of the ball, and in McCormack had an ace marksman.
Pa Phelan set down an early marker for The Blues with a point inside a minute but after fifteen minutes there was still only a point in it, Sarsfields leading 0-5 to 0-4, Aidan McCormack (2), Stephen Cahill and Conor Lanigan, getting the other points while Conor Hammersley (2), Paul Hayes and Sean Maher were Clonoulty’s marksmen.
Sarsfields’ neat approach was stretching the Clonoulty defence and they took a commanding grip when they notched five unanswered points from the 17th to 24th minutes, three from McCormack with Michael O’Brien and Stephen Cahill getting the others for a 0-10 to 0-4 lead.
Notions that Clonoulty would drop their heads were dispelled with three smart points in as many minutes per Hammersley (2) and Jimmy Maher to raise spirits in the west camp. Aidan McCormack and Paul Hayes swapped points before McCormack converted another Thurles free. As the game went into injury time, Conor Hammerlsey created a gilt-edged chance for Aaron Ryan but, with the goal open in front of him, the Clonoulty man’s blast struck the crossbar and was cleared, leaving Sarsfields ahead 0-12 to 0-8 at the break.
One can only speculate what a goal then would have done for Clonoulty morale but the ball was very much in Sarsfields court as they began the second half, with the breeze behind them, and another Pa Phelan point in a minute to set the tone. Eight Aidan McComrack points followed, punctuated by Aaron Ryan’s lone effort for Clonoulty in the 40th minute, to leave Sarsfields 0-22 to 0-9 clear with ten minutes to go.
The game was beyond Clonoulty’s reach but to their credit they produced a strong finish, out-pointing Sarsfields four to one, though still finishing ten adrift at the call of time.
This outing, following their win over Loughmore-Castleiney in the Mid final, gives Sars good grounds for optimism, with a steady improvement with each game in this hectic conclusion to the year. While Aidan McCormack was by far the most influential figure on the field, Sarsfields success also owed much to the efforts of such as Jack Lineen, Stephen Cahill, Conor Lanigan, Pa Phelan, Ronan Maher and Paul Maher, but all round they looked well-equipped.
Clonoulty-Rossmore were committed and determined but their play did not match that of previous outings. Despite regular success in this grade at divisional level, they have yet to achieve a county title in the grade, but their day will surely come. Sean Maher, Jimmy Maher, Ronan Heffernan and Paul Hayes led the way for them with Darren Corcoran and Conor Hammersely also having their moments.
Sarsfields - K Smith; J Lineen, J Ryan, P Maher; M Dwyer, R Maher, P Dunne; D Corbett, S Cahill(0-2); K Dunne, A McCormack(0-16, 11fs), C Lanigan(0-1); M O’Brien(0-1), P Crone, P Phelan(0-2); Subs- B McCarthy for K Dunne; A Doyle(0-1) for Crone; C Maher for Lineen, M Lanigan for Phelan;
Clonoulty-Rossmore – D Egan; S Coffey, J Horan, D Corcoran(0-1); J Maher(0-1), C Quirke, R Heffernan; M Sadlier, K Maher; A Ryan(0-1), S Maher(0-1,1f), C Carroll; C Hammersely(0-6,3fs), P Hayes(0-2), S Quinn; Subs- P Hennessy for Carroll; S Carew(0-1) for K Maher;
Ref- G Fitzpatrick.