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De La Salle survive furious fightback

posted 29 Nov 2010, 04:20 by Unknown user

MUNSTER CLUB SHC FINAL: De La Salle 0-9 Thurles Sarsfields 0-8: DE LA Salle survived freezing weather and a furious second-half fightback from first-time finalists Thurles Sarsfields to collect their second Munster club hurling title in three seasons at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.

Some 1,613 hardy souls braved sub-zero temperatures to witness a dour, hard-fought contest of little frills, but honest endeavour, on a treacherous pitch, half of which was covered in frost.

The Waterford champions just about deserved their narrow victory, but their Tipperary opponents have only themselves to blame for not completing a memorable year for hurling in the county.

They accumulated a nightmare 17 wides, 10 more than De La Salle, and while conditions were hardly conducive for forwards in particular, some of the Sarsfields’ shooting bordered on the pathetic, underlining their inexperience at this level.

Captain Patrick McCormack won the toss and handed De La Salle first use of the wind, which wasn’t that strong, but made an appreciable difference all the same, especially in the near-arctic weather.

It seemed a wise call, particularly as Sarsfields managed to be on level terms after 10 minutes, 0-2 apiece, but they couldn’t score again as the Waterford side took full control to lead by 0-7 to 0-2 at the interval.

Sarsfields were out of sorts in the first half, apart from registering just two points, hitting nine wides, and their discipline was also suspect. They collected five yellow cards in the period, including three for fouls on outstanding centre back Kevin Moran.

De La Salle’s greater experience shone as the opening quarter drifted, All Star John Mullane claiming three points in a glorious two-minute spell to help his side jump 0-5 to 0-2 in front after 15 minutes. John Keane stretched the advantage moments later before Mullane pointed a 23rd-minute free to complete the scoring.

Sarsfields returned for the second half clearly determined to make amends for their inept showing in the first and they responded well to the challenge with hurler-of-the-year Lar Corbett at last getting on the score-sheet with the opening point inside a minute.

Impressive half back Stephen Lillis added a couple of long-range frees to boost Sarsfields’ confidence, though Keane added his second in between to make it 0-8 to 0-4 after 40 minutes.

Then came their best spell. Inspired by Pádraic Maher, Lillis and the grafting Alan Kennedy and Michael Gleeson, Sarsfields put the De La Salle defence under intense pressure, reducing the margin to the minimum with a Pa Bourke free in the 49th minute.

De La Salle were hanging on at this stage and badly needing a respite. It duly came in unlikely circumstances, substitute Eoin Madigan, with possibly his first touch, finding the range from way out on the left touchline to score a magnificent point, 0-9 to 0-7, with five minutes remaining.

Almost immediately, Bourke cut it once more with a pointed free and the De La Salle defence prepared for the siege. They were ready, though, as full back and captain Ian Flynn stood defiant, inspiring all those around him, including Michael Doherty, with Moran another calming influence.

A replay looked a likely outcome as the game entered two minutes of injury-time, but the malaise which struck Sarsfields all the way through surfaced again in the closing act, Denis Maher’s equalising effort fading right and wide. De La Salle had survived.

DE LA SALLE : S Brenner; D Russell, I Flynn, captain, M Doherty; B Phelan (0-1, free) , K Moran, S Daniels; C Watt, D Twomey; P Nevin, D Greene, E Barrett; J Mullane (0-5, three frees), J Keane (0-2) , J Dillon. Subs: E Madigan (0-1) for Barrett (45 mins), D McGrath for Watt (59 mins).

THURLES SARSFIELDS : P McCormack, captain; David Maher, K O’Gorman, M Cahill; D Kennedy, P Maher, S Lillis (0-2, frees) ; A Kennedy, M Gleeson; A McCormack (0-2) , Denis Maher, P Bourke (0-3, two frees); L Corbett (0-1) , R Ruth, J Enright. Subs : M O’Brien for Enright (41 mins), J Corbett for Ruth (46 mins), B O’Dwyer for Kennedy (55 mins).

Referee: J Sexton (Cork).