Sars and UCC are capable of more in the replay and going all the way to county glory

Sars and UCC are capable of more in the replay and going all the way to county glory
UCC's Anthony Spillane is tracked by Sars' Conor O'Sullivan. Picture: Ger Bonus

WHO can improve more next Saturday?

A youthful Sarsfields side not short of grit and skill or a UCC outfit packed with inter-county All-Star nominees but still gelling together?

That, along with how many of the College's Waterford contingent are available, will decide the quarter-final replay in Páirc Uí Rinn. Conor Gleeson and Jamie Barron were on duty over the border with Fourmilewater last weekend, while Tom Devine was marked absent entirely, and there's a suggestion a number of them could be in London this time.

As good a job as Martin Walsh and his selectors have done in unifying UCC to knock out Midleton and almost do the same to Sars, they'll need their marquee men again. Apart from Colm Spillane, whose aerial strength at the edge of the square was a highlight, the College were solid more than spectacular in the 0-18 to 1-15 draw.

They got a share of 7/10 displays though. Rob O'Shea reminded us why he had been a Cork senior, Ferrybank's Mark O'Brien looked very lively on the wing, and then you'd Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Tipp's Michael Breen – who along with Barron chipped in with two points each.

Sars were in a similar situation. There were more decent individual performances than exceptional ones.

Jack O'Connor, the goalscorer, and Tadhg Óg Murphy had their moments in attack, while Eoghan Murphy and Paul Leopold were dogged throughout, but Sars never got into the groove you'd associate with them. They had four less wides than UCC and they needed a few breaks to snatch the 1-2 that rescued the game.

Sub Eoin O'Sullivan deserved special mention though for the energy and graft he brought to the middle third in the last quarter. Having been unavailable since the first round he returned to land a great score from play and win two frees.

Like the Imokilly-Erin's Own draw there was real drama in the closing stages. Not only because of the comeback, but over late frees.

In the first quarter-final, Erin's Own had rallied to go a point up until Seamus Harnedy earned a last-free free. Keeper Deccie Dalton came up to hit it from 35 metres but drilled the shot low and hard thinking they were two down. Luckily for the Cork U21 it flew over.

Likewise in the second clash. When Gleeson was penalised Eoin O'Sullivan stood over a straightforward free but clipped it to Ray Ryan, believing a goal was needed. The experienced Ryan shot over to draw.

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