Burgess find form in seeing off Sarsfields
Report: James Hayden in Dolla
Burgess set themselves up for the relegation playoffs in the best way possible after a fine five point win over Thurles Sarsfields on Sunday afternoon.
Although a ‘dead rubber’ of a game with Sars’ already through to the knock-out stages and Burgess consigned to a relegation battle this tie offered a depleted Burgess side the opportunity to salvage some solace from this year’s campaign.
With a number of players out with long-term injuries and also having lost the influential Johnny Mulqueen with an ankle ligament injury in the dying minutes of their Swans clash, Burgess were forced to field a depleted side against a formidable Sars’ outfit boasting the talents of Lar Corbett, John Maher, Michael Gleeson and a host of former Dan Breen winning players.
Played in truly abysmal conditions the tie was by no means a cracker but the closing quarter proved absorbing, the highlight of which was stunning point-blank injury time save from Burgess goalkeeper Ronan Tucker after Aidan Ryan broke through on goal. Burgess were 0-16 to 0-12 in front when Lar Corbett deftly set up the inrushing Ryan and had it not been for the intervention of Tucker the outcome of the game could have been a far different one.
The opening quarter failed to illuminate the imagination, although there were flashes of brilliance from John Maher and Mar Corbett. Sars’ led 0-3 to 0-1 after eight minutes following efforts from Liam McCormack, John Maher (free) and Kevin Dunne while Conor Gill opened Burgess’ account on three minutes.
Stephen Murray (free) and Liam McCormack exchanged frees in the 12th minute before a well-taken Michael Ryan point ensured Burgess trailed by just one point at the first water break, 0-3 to 0-4.
Mossie McCormack edged Cian Tracey’s charges two clear in the 22nd minute but Burgess hit back with Eoin Grace and Stephen Murray (free) restoring parity by the 23rd minute.
Sars’ edged two clear once more though with the impressive John Maher firing over a pointed free and another from play before Eoin Grace knifed over his second point of the game for a battling Burgess side. With the interval approaching John Maher once more bisected the uprights with a sweetly struck free to ensure Thurles Sarsfields held a 0-9 to 0-7 advantage at the break.
Despite now playing into the teeth of a stiff breeze, Burgess upped the tempo and were back on terms again by the 37th minute thanks to a brace of Stephen Murray frees after Michael Ryan and Bill Darcy had fired over earlier points for their respective sides.
Sean Flynn’s charges hit the front on 39 minutes thanks to another Murray free and it was lead they never relinquished. The introduction of Eoin Hogan gave Burgess a timely fill-up also and his fingerprints were all over a number of crucial Burgess scores in the closing twenty minutes.
Burgess edged three clear as the water break approached with the excellent Eoin Grace firing over his third from play while Eoin Hogan set up Stephen Murray for his side’s fourteenth point on the cusp of the second water break.
Burgess led 0-14 to 0-10 at that break and in the final quarter really dug deep to stave off the best Thurles Sarsfields could muster. Eoin Hogan and John Maher exchanged points in the 51st & 52nd minutes respectively before Stephen Murray put five between the sides with a 57th minute close-range free.
Lar Corbett blasted over from a 20-metre free as the 60-minute mark approached and had to be happy with the point when a goal would have been the preferred option.
Sars’ kept coming at Burgess in waves, but with Donagh Maher and Pat Woods together with Willie Ryan and Eoin Grace excellently closing down these attacks it was Burgess who finally emerged victorious after a tough battle with a Thurles Sarsfields side whose focus is clearly on the knockout stages.
Burgess on the other hand will now turn their attention to their looming relegation battle in a bid to maintain their senior status in what has been a challenging campaign full of adversity for them.
Player of the Match: Eoin Grace (Burgess)
Burgess: Ronan Tucker (7), Daire Hogan (7), Pat Woods (7), Jack O’Flaherty (7); Brian Tucker (7), Donagh Maher (8), Tadgh O’Halloran (7); Eoin Grace (0-3, 8), Willie Ryan (7); Shane Maher (7), Stephen Murray (0-10, 9f) 7), Conor Gill (0-1, 7); Keith Nealon (7), Michael Ryan (0-2, 7), Stephen Kirwan (7)
Subs: Eoin Hogan (0-1, 7) for Kirwan (40); Bill O’Flaherty (NR) for J O’Flaherty (60).
Thurles Sarsfields: Kevin Bracken (7), Emmet Fogarty (7), Rory Dwan (7), David Maher (7); Cian Stakelum (7), James Armstrong (7), Michael Gleeson (7); Aidan Ryan (7), Kevin Dunne (0-1, 7); Mossie McCormack (0-1, 7), Bill Darcy (0-2, 7), John Maher (0-5, 3f) 8); Jack Lanigan (6), Lar Corbett (0-1f, 7), Liam McCormack (0-2, 7).
Referee: Paddy Ivors (Ballingarry).