Blues Back After High Class Final
Long tradition and current class have seen Sarsfields take another County title. It means plenty to the Blues as their three in four years suggest something akin to old time dominance.
It would have meant perhaps more to the losers, for whom success would have more than doubled last season’s pleasure. To both, high credit is due for one of our better deciders in terms of fluctuation and spectacle, as well as exemplary sportsmanship.
At the end the rival emotions were palpable. The Blues and their followers rightly exulted in recovery of the Dan Breen. As both Divisional and County victors they’ve had a perfect campaign with prestige that should help them on the trip to Kilmallock.
Sympathy for Drom-Inch wasn’t of much impact on players who knew they’d come close to pulling off a terrific recovery from seven down.
Having caught out Sars inner defence for two second half goals, a third appeared assured on the chance three minutes from time up. Not to be as it dribbled wide.
The Blues, too, had to find resolve to survive the loss of their big interim lead and even a brief deficit by taking five of the last six scores. All in all, a gripping final before a crowd of moderate size, probably reflecting the Mid monopoly in the main contest.
In the Intermediate it was a fine achievement for Silvermines to gain trophy and promotion. By coincidence their presence on the day recalled a previous Sarsfields senior success, that of 1974 over the side from the ‘Mines.
The game marked a big advance individually for Aidan McCormack, who took the scoring limelight over his County colleagues in the Blues attack with 1-6 from play.
Drom-Inch’s efforts to contain him failed particularly with his goal on the blow of half time and it was fitting that the ex Harty Cup, Tipp minor and U/21 should wrap up the triumph with the final flag.
A nice addendum to his day was to have his uncle Ger in there for the later passage of play. “Man of the Match” kudos was gained over high contributors Padraig Maher and Michael Cahill - the latter came up with the display the occasion and the threat from Seamus Callanan demanded.
No less praiseworthy the repeated and admirable showing of their great servant, in veteran Johnny Enright, spraying ball about with typical judgment from midfield. Without doubt, Drom-Inch’s leading light was Johnny Ryan in his bold bid to topple rivals and relations. Several of his hits were huge and accurate, as had been the case against Loughmore.
In advance one wondered if Drom-Inch, with so much to defend and to gain, might recede into the pattern of poor finals they’d suffered before last year’s break-through.
The heavy loss to Loughmore early in the year was a cautionary omen. But no inhibitions at all were apparent now as they came out of traps very positively indeed to go three up in a few minutes. But it was Sars who settled then to a fast and high quality spell of seven in a row, going to their play with fine confidence through the field and finding score takers in Denis Maher, McCormack, O’Brien, Bourke and Gleeson. Ideas of taking command, though, met a response from Johnny Ryan and a typical Callanan finish to gain a decent position at four adrift. To take this to the dressing room would be encouraging in view of the fresh wind to be an ally later on. A swift delivery from Cahill, though, found McCormack on the left for a significant drive past Young to extend the gap to a substantial seven. The odds had to be strongly with the leaders, the holders having suffered a big set back.
There was nothing routine about the rest of the contest. It rose to heights of tension once David Butler latched onto a loose ball for a prompt reduction of arrears. Still, Sars were far from rattled by it and re-built a six up advantage on another McCormack finish. Drom-Inch were putting in an immense effort with Woodlock coming into it strongly in the middle. Support grew louder and more optimistic when Johnny Ryan and Seamus Butler halved the gap - and louder still when Callanan turned in the drop of a high arrival. The green flag preceded a Woodlock leveller and “all to play for” had surely a hopeful aspect for Drom-Inch, more so than at one up thanks to Callanan’s point. John Maher and Ger O’Grady came on, illustrating Sars anxiety.
They now called on Enright to assume the free taking and he rose to the test manfully off a pair of lengthy ones to reverse the state of the board. An astute pass from Enright to Bourke yielded a point, came the episode that will weigh on the memories of the eventual losers. The opening was there for a Callanan ground stroke but the contact wasn’t crisp enough and it dribbled wide to the right - relief and dismay in the opposing camps. Seamus then attempted to batter a “21” for compensation but the defence held firm in the tensest of finishes. McCormack had the last say, leaving Drom-Inch to seek salvation in crowded rucks from which Padraig Maher and Michael Cahill took away vital ball. Referee Fergal Horgan, himself an All-Ireland minor goalkeeper, took a liberal view of some fairly obvious fouls in both directions. Congrats to the Blues and best wishes for Munster progress. Hard luck but well fought to the ex-champions. In defeat, they endorsed a high position in the County’s order of merit.
Sars went successfully to Kilmallock two years ago, winning by five points before going under to Waterford’s De La Salle - Mullane’s club took the Waterford final readily against Dungarvan last Sunday. The clash of Tipp. and Limerick champions on Sunday week will be a sort of invoice to the meeting of the Counties in the next Munster championship, for which Tipp. will have to travel. Cork’s Sarsfields await the survivors of the Club game.