Joy for Ray Ryan after Sars hurlers struck late to take U21 Premier 1 title

Joy for Ray Ryan after Sars hurlers struck late to take U21 Premier 1 title
Sarsfields' manager Ray Ryan with Daniel Hogan and Ben Graham celebrate after defeating Midleton. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

SARSFIELDS manager Ray Ryan has praised the character of his side as they overcame a strong Midleton team to lift the Cork County U21 Premier 1 Hurling Championship title at Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday afternoon.

Liam Healy’s superb goal in the 62nd minute was enough to see the East Cork club edge the final by 2-17 to 0-22 and Ryan admitted it is a fantastic achievement, especially as the Magpies were the form team coming in, led by Garan Manley and Tommy O’Connell.

“I thought the game was going away from us, I thought Midleton had our number because things just didn’t seem to be going write for us in areas that we thought we would be strong in,” he said.

“All we could ask the lads is to stay in there, keep fighting, keep within a point or two of them because then there is always a chance.

“In the end we got two important goals at two important times in the match that kept us in the game and we are delighted to squeeze out a one point win.

“We were very happy with about 22 or 23 minutes of the first half.

“We thought we had controlled the game, we were working well but then Midleton just got a hold of midfield, they really powered into the game and won nearly every break and every second ball which is the most important thing in hurling.

“We got back in at half time we gathered the troops and the same as last week against Blackrock we said we have to knuckle down and put in the hard work and that is what we did in the end.

“It is fantastic for the club. We have had a couple of mediocre years for the want of a better word after having such a strong period for a long time but it is great to get silverware back in the club and these players are the future and the future is bright.”

Healy’s goal saw him end the showpiece occasion with a remarkable tally of 1-9, following up his 0-14 in the semi-final and Ryan believes he should soon find himself playing for Cork.

“He is a fantastic player,” he added about the former Cork minor and U21, who has featured in midfield and as well as up front.

“For me, I don’t know how he is not on a cork panel because - he’s not the biggest man - he is just so brilliant, he is so brave, so strong in the tackle, so intelligent, super striker of the ball and he has just got everything.

“If you are telling me that there is 15 better forwards in the county than him I have yet to see it.”

Cork minor Daniel Hogan also chipped in with a fine return of 0-5, while Cork senior Jack O’Connor nailed a key goal in the second half.

While the result was hugely disappointing for Midleton, especially as they were beaten last year by Fr O’Neill’s after a thriller in extra time, with two minor counties in the past three seasons they’re still in a very strong position going forward.

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