Blackrock 1-15 Sarsfields 0-17
A goal and two points in injury time from Alan Connolly meant that Blackrock completed a dramatic turnaround to beat Sarsfields in their Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier SHC Group 3 clash at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening.
As the game moved past the 60-minute mark, Sarsfields led by 0-17 to 0-13 after Aaron Myers sent over his eighth point of the night. Blackrock were given some hope though as Connolly fired a low shot to the net after Conor O’Sullivan had cut out Robbie Cotter’s intended pass for Tadhg Deasy. When Connolly’s eighth point tied the game, it meant that extra time was on the horizon as the game was doubling up as a RedFM Hurling League Division 1 semi-final.
But, after both sides wasted chances and the allotted four minutes of injury time elapsed, there was still an opportunity for a winner and Connolly was the man who seized it, fouled after a driving run and converting the free himself to end with a total of 1-9 and give the 2020 county champions two points. They will face city rivals St Finbarr’s next Saturday night with a chance to put one foot in the knockout stage while Sars will seek a response when they meet Charleville.
All six starting forwards scored for Sars but a key moment they will look back on was a 50th-minute penalty, when they led by 0-13 to 0-11. O’Sullivan’s long ball was won by Shane O’Regan, who was fouled by goalkeeper Alan Connolly but given advantage and put the ball over the bar. Referee Nathan Wall awarded the penalty, but O’Regan’s high shot missed the target.
Even so, points from Myers and Jack O’Connor made it 0-15 to 0-11 and they kept Blackrock at arm’s length down the stretch until the late turnaround.
The split season may have made the calendar more amenable to the club game, but the element were intent on playing a joke in poor taste, with the constant rainfall making life difficult for both sets of players.
Sars looked to have adjusted better to the conditions as they reeled off the opening three points, Daniel Hogan on target inside half a minute before Aaron Myers added two. Colm McCarthy was doing well in midfield for the Riverstown club but, once Blackrock got off the mark with a pair of Robbie Cotter scores in the ninth minute, they asserted themselves territorially.
After Sars’ James Sweeney drew a save from Gavin Connolly, two frees from the goalkeeper’s brother Alan put Blackrock in front and the Cork star’s fourth point on 22 minutes, set up by Cathal Cormack’s nice diagonal pass, had them 0-6 to 0-4 to the good.
By that stage, Sars had recorded seven wides, but the remainder of the half would see them finish as they began, with three unanswered points, James Sweeney firing over in injury time to send them in with a 0-7 to 0-6 advantage.
On the restart, Sars had sight of goal as Killian Murphy found former Watergrasshill man Shane O’Regan in the left corner and he centred for Hogan but, as he wound up to shoot, corner-back Cian McCarthy got in a heroic block. Even without the boost that a green flag would have brought, Sars had three of the next four points, with Myers and Jack O’Connor both landing superb efforts, to move 0-10 to 0-7 in front.
Given the weather, it felt like a big lead but Blackrock ensured that they weren’t left behind as Michael O’Halloran flashed a shot over following a good run by sub Tadhg Deasy. Three times over the next ten minutes, Sars moved three ahead – Myers with another excellent score, O’Regan profiting from a great ball by the outstanding Conor O’Sullivan and then Myers again, set up by O’Connor – but each time Blackrock replied, a pair of Connolly frees sandwiching another smart O’Halloran point.
In the midst of that, Deasy tested Alan Kennedy with a low shot from the right but, with Daniel Kearney dropping deep to good effect, Sars seemed to have things under control.
Despite the penalty miss, they continued to have the upper hand, but Blackrock and Connolly had the final say.
A Connolly 1-9 (0-6 f), M O’Halloran, R Cotter 0-3 each.
A Myers 0-8 (0-2 f), J Sweeney, J O’Connor, D Hogan 0-2 each, Colm McCarthy, S O’Regan, Cathal McCarthy 0-1 each.
G Connolly; C McCarthy, A O’Callaghan, C O’Brien; Cathal Cormack, J Cashman, N Cashman; D Meaney, S Murphy; M O’Halloran, S O’Keeffe, M O’Keeffe; J O’Sullivan, A Connolly, R Cotter.
T Deasy for O’Sullivan (34), Ciarán Cormack for O’M O’Keeffe (39), D O’Farrell for Meaney (48).
A Kennedy; W Kearney, B Murphy, C O’Sullivan; C Roche, P Leopold, K Crowley; Colm McCarthy, K Murphy; J O’Connor, D Kearney, D Hogan; A Myers, S O’Regan, J Sweeney.
L Hackett for Colm McCarthy (49), C Darcy for K Murphy (52), Cathal McCarthy for D Kearney (56), L Healy for Hogan (58), E O’Sullivan for O’Connor (60).
N Wall (Ballincollig).