Walker whacks crucial scores home for Sars
LEE WALKER whacked home two fine goals for Sarsfields and added four points for good measure, including the winning brace in the closing stages, to end Starlights' interest in the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship at a rain-lashed Cushinstown.
Last year's Intermediate winners looked to be in a strong position when they added a quick 1-1 to their interval lead of 1-7 to 2-2 in this Group B tie, but they were destined to kick just one more point, from a John Hudson free early in the last quarter, as the Sars reversed the outcome of the recent hurling clash between the Rapps and the Harriers.
It means that even if Starlights shock St. Anne's in the last round, it mightn't be enough for them as they have already lost to Adamstown as well.
Thursday's opponents and the Ross District side are all vying for two qualifying places and it looks like they will go to the Sars and Adamstown barring a big surprise, with the Wexford town men particularly fancied as they meet lowly Duffry Rovers on Tuesday next.
Lee Walker was in scintillating scoring form for the victors, with his first goal arriving from a Lee Chin pass in the seventh minute to give his side a 1-1 to 0-1 lead.
However, Tommy Foley, Jason Russell and county Minor Conor Farrell brought Starlights level by the tenth minute with points before Walker raised a white flag.
Sarsfields didn't add to their tally for another 19 minutes though as their wind-aided rivals tacked on points from frees by John Hudson (two) and Brendan Kearney before Mikey Dempsey played Chris Kenny through for a well-worked goal midway through the second quarter (1-7 to 1-2).
The eventual winners hit back at a crucial juncture as Paul Murphy blasted a penalty to the net following a foul on Paul Gannon seconds before the interval.
They made life hard on themselves though with a dismal start to the new half as John Hudson set up Chris Kenny for his second goal before adding a point from a free (2-8 to 2-2).
Once again Lee Walker stepped up when the Sars needed him most, finishing off a flowing move involving John Bridges, Lee Chin and Paul Murphy with his second goal in the 41st minute.
Philip Cullen and Murphy narrowed the gap to the minimum as the conditions worsened before a Hudson free left Starlights leading by 2-9 to 3-4 in the 48th minute.
Sarsfields continued to surge forward though, equalising with frees from Walker and Murphy before the former swung over the lead point with his left peg in the 59th minute. He followed up with an insurance score from a placed ball on a night when Starlights missed the honeymooning James Carty while Sarsfields were without the injured Kevin Gore, Michael Hanrahan and Jason Murphy.
Sarsfields: Eoin Healy; Tomás Campbell, Brendan Mulligan, Cillian Lawlor; Jamie McDonnell, David Mooney (capt.), Fran Cleary; Eoin Roche, Lee Chin; Paul Gannon, Paul Murphy (1-3, 1-0 pen., 0-2 frees), Warren Broaders; Philip Cullen (0-1), Lee Walker (2-4, 0-2 frees), John Bridges. Subs. - Jim Berry for Gannon (HT), Seán Pailing for Cullen (44).
Starlights: Lee Murphy; Mel Doyle, Tom Wall, Davy Morrissey; Rory O'Connor, Anthony Russell (capt.), Mikey Dempsey; Jason Russell (0-1), Pa Doyle; Brendan Kearney (0-3, 2 frees, 1 line ball), Tomás Mahon, Chris Kenny (2-0); Conor Farrell (0-1), John Hudson (0-3 frees), Tommy Foley (0-1). Subs. - Ryan Mahon for Foley (53), John Daly for P. Doyle (60), Anthony Roche for J. Russell (60).
Referee: Syl Doyle (Ballyhogue).