SARSFIELDS had their first run out in the senior hurling championship on Sunday and it turned out to be a tough assignment against Ballyhea in Fermoy.
They pulled away near the end, helped by a Jack O’Connor wonder goal.
The Riverstown side took the direct route last year, they won all their games and progressed as far as the semi-final. They did have a couple of draws along the way against UCC in the quarter-final, but they came good a week later with one point to spare.
They met Imokilly in the semi-final, and again a replay was needed. That time a seven-point margin separated them. The divisional side, of course, went on to greater glory.
Needless to say, manager Brian Roche was delighted they got this win under their belt and get the new season underway.
He has a number of player involved with county teams, so preparation wasn’t as perfect as he would have liked.
“Any championship win is a good win and we are delighted with that. We are one hundred percent happy to get out of Fermoy with the win.
"We have had troubles here at this venue in the past. It is a monkey off our back.
"We prepared as best we could, but it was a stuttering start, I felt our form was better this time last year. Maybe it has got to do with the availability of our inter-county players, we have five players in there and we haven’t seen much of them at all.
“We have had a third of our team in training with Cork, and we have had only three training sessions with the lads.
"I can understand the inter-county managers don’t want to be leaving players away, everything boils down to May for them. We haven’t seen the Cork lads.
“You see Tim O’Mahony getting injured last night (with Newstownshandrum against Kanturk). I personally don’t think the club championship should be on in April, that the players should be with the county.”
The plus side of having inter-county players in your squad is the experience they bring from that higher level. It can be re-invigorating. And that was evident in Daniel Kearney’s display.
The number nine scored four wonderful points – three in the first-half.
He did trojan work and has taken over the role as leader for his team. The quality of the point-taking too is noticeable. Big games demand big players and he delivered.
Jack O’Connor was another. Roche wasn’t at all surprised that he came up trumps.
“Jack got a great goal when we needed it. Jack might be out of a game for a small bit, but he will spark on again. He is a great player.”
It was a disappointing loss for Ballyhea. The go through to round 2 where they will lock horns with Ballymartle. They will take heart from their second-half performance when they came to within a point of their conquerors.