Joe Mallon SFC round one
Sarsfields began their championship campaign with a straightforward victory over Raheens in the final game of the Senior Championship first round.
Alan Smith and Ben McCormack were superb in attack for the victors, with the pair of them bagging 11 points from play between them, while the final cog in the full-forward line, Cian Costigan, also helped himself to 1-1.
McCormack went off injured late on however, though it didn’t look all that serious for the attacker.
Raheens far from disgraced themselves, and they should be confident of having enough to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle this summer.
Raheens looked for all the world that they would push this tie right down to the wire as they started the game in excellent fashion, racing into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead after just 12 minutes following a frantic opening.
They were full value for that lead as their midfielders and half-backs were happy to run at Sarsfields defenders, and it paid dividends on a number of occasions. The opening score arrive after less than a minute as John Jennings shrugged off a couple of challenges before floating a shot over from 35 metres out, but Alan Smith responded with Sarsfields’ first point of the day soon after.
Paddy Woodgate slotted a free for Raheens, and while Caoimghin McDonnell fired over from distance for the Sash, it was last year’s Intermediate champions who took control of the tie for the next few minutes. Liam Power could have found the net in the fifth minute when he raced through on goal, but his effort whistled just wide of the post.
Raheens did clock up three unanswered scores after that however, with Barry Winder igniting the purple patch with a brilliant hanging effort from the right wing that dropped over the bar. Woodgate swerved over a superb point after selling a neat dummy, and he pushed Raheens three clear with a pointed free after.
Ben McCormack and Power both traded excellent scores at either end, but it was the Sash who took over from there as they outscored Noel Mooney’s side by 1-8 to 0-1 for the remainder of the half. McCormack fisted over a 12th minute point before Smith and Cahill added scores to level the game, and a stunning long range score from Cian Scanlon pushed Sarsfields into the lead.
The major score of the first half arrived in the 22nd minute when McCormack burst past Shane Crowley down the right wing and played the ball to Cian Costigan, who shimmied inside the area and rolled the ball into the net from close range.
Raheens’ chances were further hampered when Alan Igoe was black carded for tripping McCormack, and Chaill floated over the free that came as a result of that misdemeanour. Further scores from Smith and a contentious one from Scanlon stretched the Sarsfields lead to seven points, and scores at either end from Woodgate and Cahill left the Sash in control with a 1-11 to 0-7 advantage at the break.
The game was fairly finely balanced throughout the third quarter as both sides trading scores with regularity, but Sarsfields were always capable of doing enough to keep their noses in front.
Raheens began the second half looking to cut into the Sarsfields lead, and an early free from Woodgate followed by a superb long range score from Malone helped do just that. The Sash, however, were capable of landing scores at any stage through their dangerous attack, with McCormack making things look easy at times. Twice in quick succession the county man sauntered away from his marker to confidently slot over points, and when Smith stroked over his fourth of the evening it pushed the 2016 county champions eight points clear.
Raheens kept fighting however, and Malone in particular was leading the charge as he kicked another score from distance, and a brilliant point from all of 50 metres from Woodgate further lifted the Caragh club’s spirit.
Sarsfields weren’t going to give them too much of a sniff to get back into the game though, and a quick clutch of points from Cahill, Costigan and McDonnell put enough distance between the sides that the men in green wouldn’t have to worry going into the final 10 minutes.
The game lost much of its intensity in the closing stages as the result was cast in stone, but Raheens did at least bag a consolation goal when Jennings leathered home a late effort.
Scorers for Sarsfields: A Smith 0-6, B McCormack 0-5, C Costigan 1-1, R Cahill 0-4(3f), C McDonnell and C Scanlon 0-2 each, C Byrne 0-1.
Scorers for Raheens: P Woodgate 0-7(4f), D Malone 0-2, J Jennings 1-1, B Winder, L Power and M Waters 0-1 each.
Andy O’Brien; Shane Hurley, Sean Campbell, Cian Byrne; Cian Scanlon, Gary White, Diarmuid Hartley; Shea Ryan, Caoimghin McDonnell; Dean Domican, Ray Cahill, Ronan Fitzgibbon; Ben McCormack, Alan Smith, Cian Costigan.
Subs used: Darragh Ryan for Domican 42mins, C McInerney Aspell for Mc Cormack 58mins.
Declan Campbell; Shane Crowley, Tom Early, Graham Waters; James Dolan, Thomas Dore, Conor Earley; Liam Power, Rory Donnelly; David Malone, Alan Igoe, Paddy Woodgate; Mark Waters, John Jennings, Barry Winder.
Subs used: Rory Hannick for Igoe BC 25mins.
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