Captain Cooney leads the way as Sarsfields rise again
Sarsfields 2-10 Craughwell 0-14
Sarsfields will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year and that is set to be a driving force as the first team to win successive All-Ireland club titles bid for national glory again.
The club which dominated Galway during the 1990s, and captured the All-Ireland titles in 1993 and '94, won their seventh county title yesterday and first in almost two decades when they held an edge for most of this entertaining replay at Pearse Stadium.
Craughwell, who reached their first final in 83 years this season and who were looking for their first title since 1931, were always in contention but the concession of two goals in the opening half proved decisive.
Sarsfields, with Joseph Cooney a superb leader, led by 2-6 to 0-8 and fashioned the win in the closing stages when his younger brother Kevin, a minor this year, came on to score two key points.
It was like watching history repeat itself, their father Joe was star of the Sarsfields side which dominated in the 1990s along with his brother.
They have several sons on board from the All-Ireland-winning teams but the most direct link to that era comes in the form of 38-year old player-manager Cathal Murray.
He won his first medal as a sub in 1995, missed their last success in '97, and yesterday performed at corner-back to finally win one on the field.
But they won't be content to settle for this success and the pedigree ensures they are already turning their attentions to next February and an All-Ireland semi-final date when they will hope to celebrate their 50th anniversary with even more glory.
"It is a special year. You don't get many opportunities to play in an All-Ireland semi-final and that is what we will be saying to the lads," said Murray.
Joseph Cooney's goal, when he burst through to finish in style after ten minutes, wiped out Craughwell's good start, but it was the overhead flick from Noel Kelly when he connected with Niall Quinn's long free, which did the most damage.
That left Sarsfields 2-6 to 0-8 ahead at the break and left Craughwell chasing the game.
Niall Healy's accuracy from frees kept them in contention but Kevin Cooney dealt them massive blows with his late points to steer Sarsfields home. "We put in a massive effort in the last three years so this is heartbreaking," said Craughwell manager Stephen Glennon.
"It has been building up to this. It's a setback that is the way we have to look at it. Hopefully next year the lads can regroup."
Scorers - Sarsfields: N Morrissey 0-6 (5f); J Cooney & N Kelly 1-0 each; K Cooney 0-2; K Wade & S Kelly 0-1 each. Craughwell: N Healy 0-9 (8f); Jamie Ryan & A Callanan 0-2 each; F Healy 0-1.
Sarsfields - C Dolan; K Hynes, D Skehill, E Cleary; C Murray, N Quinn, D Murray; R Quinn, I Fox; J Cooney, N Kelly, K Wade; I Skehill, A Ward, N Morrissey. Subs: K Cooney for D Murray (20), S Kelly 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, S Hynes, Jamie Ryan; T Monaghan, A Callanan, N Healy. Subs: A Greaney for N Callanan (40), K Cullinane for Hynes (51).
Ref - S Hynes (Liam Mellows)