Sarsfields come good in county final replay 

Sarsfields celebrate winning the Galway Senior Hurling Championship final replay at Pearse Stadium on Sunday, overcoming Craughwell to win their first title since 1997.      Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Sarsfields celebrate winning the Galway Senior Hurling Championship final replay at Pearse Stadium on Sunday, overcoming Craughwell to win their first title since 1997. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Sarsfields produced the goods when it mattered most to collect their first senior county title since 1997, beating Craughwell by 2-10 to 0-14.

In Sunday's final replay at Pearse Stadium, two goals in the opening half were the decisive scores. Sarsfield's team captain Joseph Cooney, who had a splendid game throughout the contest, burst through for a terrific goal after just 10 minutes. 

Stephen Glennon’s Craughwell side had recovered from that hammer blow, and were only a point adrift, thanks to scores from Jamie Ryan, Alan Callanan and the free-taking of Niall Healy, when they were hit by a another three-pointer sucker punch.

A long free from Sarsfield’s centre-back Niall Quinn was not dealt with by the Craughwell rearguard, and midfielder Noel Kelly doubled on the ball to give the former All-Ireland champions a real fillip as they led by 2-6 to 0-8 at the small whistle.

Sarfields should have put the game out of sight in the third quarter, but they shot some poor wides from scoring positions, and Niall Healy’s excellence from the dead ball meant there was only a point between them going into the home stretch.

Kevin Cooney's points were decisive

Young Sarsfield’s substitute Kevin Cooney then stood up for his club, hitting two crucial scores to close out the deal and collect a first senior county medal.

He and his brothers may have emulated their dad, Joe,  but they and their teammates will now want to go on and try to win an All-Ireland club title in the coming months.

Player/manager Cathal Murray and his management team will already this week be plotting for an All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Cushendall next February.

They will know that a county title is a wonderful and beautiful thing to win, but with the pedigree of success in the club, they will now want to emulate their magnificent club team of the early 1990s.

The victors in big games always look ahead with hope and belief, while the losers must lick their wounds, and ask the hard questions: “What could we have done differently? And what must we do next season to cross the finishing line as winners?”

Craughwell, who were looking for a first title since 1931, were so close to winning and they will feel they could have at least pushed the game to extra time.

Their team manager Stephen Glennon, who has worked tirelessly over the past few seasons to try to break that 84 year gap, will hope the lessons are learnt over the past few weeks and the experience of playing in two county finals this season will stand the team in good stead for 2016.

“We put in a massive effort in the last three years," says Glennon. "Losing the final is a setback and that is the way we have to look at it. It’s heart-breaking. However, hopefully next year the lads can regroup.

“All credit to Sarsfields. They willed it over the line. That is what it takes sometimes, just to will it over the line. They did that, and that’s it. It was a huge opportunity for both clubs.

“Unfortunately we just couldn’t make it count. They did and we wish Sarsfields all the best in the All-Ireland series.”

Sarsfields: C Dolan; K Hynes, D Skehill, E Cleary; C Murray, N Quinn, D Murray; R Quinn, I Fox; J Cooney (1-0 ), N Kelly (1-0 ), K Wade (0-1 ); I Skehill, A Ward, N Morrissey (0-6, 5 frees ) .Subs, K Cooney (0-2 ) for D Murray (20 ), S Kelly (0-1 ) for N Kelly (35 ), I Kelly for Ward (57 ).

Craughwell: A Ryan; S Dolan, I Daniels, M Monaghan; John Ryan, A Cullinane, M Horan; N Callanan, G O’Halloran; F Healy (0-1 ), S Hynes, Jamie Ryan (0-2 ); T Monaghan, A Callanan (0-2 ), N Healy (0-9, 8 frees ).Subs, A Greaney for N Callanan (40 ), K Cullinane for Hynes (51 ).

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