Cussen helps to turn it around for Sarsfields
Cork SHC Final - Sarsfields 2-14 Bride Rovers 2-13:SARSFIELDS PRODUCED a stunning second-half display to capture their third county senior hurling championship title and their first in 51 years in a thrilling final before a crowd of just over 12,000 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
Cork footballer Michael Cussen helped engineer a tremendous recovery as the new champions fought back from a six-point deficit early on after the resumption to deservedly take the spoils.
Cussen started at left half forward but was switched to full forward in the first half. His 39th- minute goal, flicking Tadhg Óg Murphy's high delivery to the net, at last settled a Sarsfields side featuring several of last year's county minor winning team.
They eventually restored parity with 12 minutes remaining, Cussen providing the pass for influential substitute Daniel Roche to level at 1-10 apiece.
Bride Rovers, from the Rathcormac area and appearing in their first final, having been a junior B club 15 years ago, hit back strongly to reclaim the initiative courtesy of points from Michael Collins and sub Richie Cahill.
But the cheering had hardly abated when Sarsfields grabbed their second goal in the 55th minute, captain Kieran Murphy setting up Robert O'Driscoll.
Sarsfields soared in confidence as a result, hitting over the next three points, including one from Cussen, to seemingly take a stranglehold at 2-13 to 1-12 in front.
Bride Rovers didn't give up without a fight. After Pat Ryan and Jerome O'Driscoll exchanged points, an O'Driscoll 65 ended up in the net to leave the minimum between the sides with a minute's injury-time left, but the clock eventually caught up with them.
Bride had enjoyed a 1-8 to 0-6 advantage at the interval, despite having played into the strong sun and appreciable wind. Their prospects received a major boost with Kieran Collins's goal after 14 minutes, when he flicked O'Driscoll's shot-cum-pass to the net for a 1-3 to 0-4 lead.
The debutants dominated from there until the break, outscoring their opponents five points to two, though both sides struggled with their shooting, Sarsfields hitting eight of the half's 14 wides.
Bride's forwards caused problems for the struggling Sarsfields defence, especially half forwards Seán Ryan and O'Driscoll, while the young Sarsfields attack found it hard to get space and time against a tough-tackling rearguard.
And when O'Driscoll pointed a free immediately on the resumption to open up a six-point gap it looked as if the title was heading Bride's way only for Sarsfields to respond in the style of champions.
SARSFIELDS:A Kennedy; R Ryan, J Barry, C O'Sullivan; D Kearney (0-1), C Leahy, B McCarthy; P Ryan (0-6, four frees), K Murphy (capt) (0-2); C McCarthy (0-1), R Murphy, M Cussen (1-2); R O'Driscoll (1-0), P Barry, T Óg Murphy (0-1). Subs: J Murphy for R Murphy (37 mins); D Roche (0-1) for Kearney (44 mins)
BRIDE ROVERS:D Fitzgerald; A Collins, B Walsh, T Moloney; Barry Murphy, Brian Murphy (capt), J Murphy; P Murphy, B Johnson (0-2, frees); S Ryan (0-3), J O'Driscoll (1-7, 0-4 frees, 1-0 65), M Kearney; M Collins, D Ryan, K Collins (1-0). Subs: P Walsh for A Collins (inj, 4 mins); R Cahill (0-1) for K Collins (48 mins); C O'Keeffe for Moloney (inj, 50 mins); N Fitzgerald for D Ryan (56 mins).
Referee:J Sexton (Cork).