SARSFIELDS are through to the SE Systems senior camogie championship final for the first time since 2019 and for the first time in seven seasons we won’t see Inniscarra in the final after a pulsating finish in Éire Óg on Sunday.
In awful conditions for hurling, this game was a battle with mistakes made, slipping feet, and many melees, referee Niall O’Neill refereed sensibly, allowing play flow as often as possible.
With little between the sides, and scores at a minimum, Inniscarra were two points to the good as the game entered the fourth quarter.
But this game turned on its head in a seven-minute spell as Cliona Lynch struck 2-2 from frees to propel Sars into the throughout and driving seat.
There’s much credit due to Lynch who had a tough start from placed balls, hitting three scorable attempts wide of the post only to compose herself and turn it around.
The wind, blowing into the right-hand corner favoured Inniscarra at the throw-in. Inniscarra had a decision to make before the game as to whether to start Aileen Sheehan vomiting all Saturday night with a bug. She lined out and lasted the game.
Joanne Casey got Inniscarra off the mark before Lynch (f) and Lucy Allen replied for Sars.
It was nip and tuck, Sars in front by two on twenty minutes after Tara Elliot made a great block on Casey, the ball struck up the field and Katlyn Sheehan pointing.
Balls were running off hurleys, points you’d normally see going over went wide of the post as the rain and wind grew stronger.
Caoimhe Buckley’s puckout to Rebecca Quigley met Joanne Casey and she billowed the net to make it 1-3 to 0-4 on 25 minutes.
Aileen Sheehan, Casey (2) and Lynch (2) saw the half out to leave it 1-6 to 0-7.
The second half was as committed as you’ll get from both sides. Both defences battened down, Rena influential alongside Ciara Ring and Aoife Kavanagh for Inniscarra with Emma Casey, Ellen Murphy and Elliot for Sars.
Hollie Herlihy introduced at half time made an impact and she hit Sars reply to the Casey free just after the break.
The battle continued, Inniscarra leading 1-8 to 0-9 before the pendulum swung. Lynch pointed a free, then winning a free on the opposing 65 her strike dipped under the crossbar.
The lift it gave Sars was tangible. But there was a long way to go yet. Lynch pointed again before Sars won a free roughly 30 metres from goal.
Whether she went for goal or not, that’s a secret Lynch may keep to herself.
But she hit it low and even though Inniscarra’s goal line got a touch the ball skid into the goal and they now had a mountain to climb.
But who better to put their foot forward than Joanne Casey. Erin Loony had a chance but it slipped away, the ball spun across the goal, Casey gathered and what an incredible strike through the eye of a needle to rocket the net.
She followed it up with a free. Two points in it entering full time but there had to be at least four minutes additional time.
Bodies on the line, desperation on both sides as they scrambled for possession, hooking, blocking but no further scores before Niall O’Neill blew the full-time whistle.
An incredible confidence boost for Sars after a tough year of injuries and absence of key players. For the second game in a row they came back in the second half to claim victory with a really strong fighting spirit.
For Inniscarra, well it’s Inniscarra, they’ll be back in the mix again next year.
C Lynch 2-7 (2-6 f), L Allen, K Sheehan, O Mullins, H Herlihy 0-1 each.
J Casey 2-7 (0-4 f, 0-1 45), E Looney, A Sheehan 0-1 each.
M Lynch; E Casey, E Murphy, T Elliot; M Mullins, M Sheehan, A McNamara; A Fitzgerald, C Lynch; C Mullins, L Allen, E Woods; O Mullins, S Desmond, K Sheehan.
H Herlihy for E Woods (h/t), S Hurley for M Sheehan (43), K Fennessy for S Desmond (48).
C Buckley; C Looney, C Ring, J Burke; A O’Regan, R Buckley, A Kavanagh; S O’Callaghan, E Looney; R Murphy, C Keane; A Sheehan; E Crowley, R Quigley, J Casey.
L Desmond for S O’Callaghan and M Lyons for R Murphy (49), A Dineen for J Burke (59).
Niall O’Neill (Midleton).