East Cork Junior A Hurling Championship Semi Final
Sun 2nd August – Watergrasshill
Carraig na bhFear 1-09 Sarsfields 0-10
Carraig are back in the East Cork Junior A Hurling Championship semi finals for the fifth time in eight seasons after overcoming Sarsfields in a titanic struggle on Sunday night in Watergrasshill.
Conditions deteriorated throughout Sunday, as heavy winds were joined by heavy rain approaching throw in time. With a strong wind blowing towards the dressing room end in the hill, accompanied by continuous rain throughout, Carraig played against the elements in the opening half as both sides struggled to come to terms with conditions that would have been more familiar to December than the August Bank Holiday weekend. Scores were at a premium in the early stages, with Carraig getting off the mark through a John Forde free while Sars replied with a point from a Pat Barry free. These two players exchanged frees again, with a third from Barry putting Sars 3-2 to the good after 21 minutes. In that period, Carraig had some good chances, but finding the target against the elements proved to be a tricky proposition. Paul Sheehan and Ronan Spillane were working hard up front and John Forde also got on plenty of ball, but scores were not coming. At the back, Timmy Geaney was leading by example, with Brian Hegarty and Paul Geaney on his wings were also hurling well. Sars pressure began to tell however and in the closing 8 minutes of the half they added 4 points to extend their lead at the break to 0-07 to 0-02.
There was no let up in the conditions as the teams emerged for the second half. Martin Hickey, outstanding throughout at midfield, got Carraig off the mark with a well taken point. Sars replied through Fanahan McSweeney to leave 5 between the sides again. A number of good chances went abegging for Carraig, as the heavy ball and tough defending of the Sars rearguard limited the chances. With Carraig pressing for a way back into the game, a long range John Forde free dropped under the crossbar and straight to the net on 40 minutes, 0-08 to 1-03 now and the Carraig tails were up. At the back, Stephen Casey and Tomás Sheehan were clearing their lines well, with Martin Hickey, Aidan Hegarty and Ronan Spillane working out their skin around the middle third winning the hard ball. Martin hit a huge point to reduce the margin to 1 and John Forde followed that up with a close range free to level the sides for just the third time on 47 minutes. Sars rallied and two points from Pat Barry frees pushed them two points ahead again with 6 minutes to play.
But Carraig wouldn’t be denied, Aidan Hegarty reduced the margin to a point on 56 minutes, Martin then picked off the score of the night, a monster effort from the ring wing that sailed over the crossbar to level matters on 58th minutes, greeted by a huge roar from the Carraig faithful. With the pressure now all on the Sarsfields goal, a free in was awarded on the right wing which John cooly converted to put Carraig into the lead for the first time since the 5th minute heading into injury time. From the resulting puckout, after a long fight for possession, Carraig emerged with the ball and Aaron Dorgan was upended for another free, which John pointed from the left wing to push us two points ahead and into the East Cork semi final, as there was time for no more.
Credit must go to both sides for putting in a trojan shift in terrible conditions. Likewise, the Watergrasshill pitch, in splendid condition, also deserves a tip of the hat, coping with the monsoon as it did.
Carraig now advance to meet St. Ita’s in a repeat of this years first round clash, as both sides look to advance to the showpiece decider on the final weekend of August. Keep an eye on the wesite for details.
Tomás Sheehan, Stephen Casey, James Forde;
Paul Geaney, Timmy Geaney, Brian Hegarty;
Martin Hickey, James Meehan;
Aidan Hegarty, Con Burns(C), John Forde;
Ronan Spillane, Aaron Dorgan, Paul Sheehan
Pádraig O’Sullivan for Con Burns (blood sub), Paul O’Keeffe for Paul Sheehan