Gusserane in full command
Sars suffer third straight loss
Gusserane set a hot early pace in the dead heat of O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Tuesday and never wavered as they strolled to a comfortable victory over Sarsfields in Group B of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship.
Gusserane 1-14 Sarsfields 1-6
It was an accomplished display by the New Ross District side and it leaves them with two wins from three outings, firmly in contention to improve on last year's unexpected early exit before the knockout stages.
In contrast, Sarsfields have now lost the first three rounds for two years running, and on form to date it looks like their next clash with fellow strugglers Adamstown will determine which of the two sides will contest the dreaded relegation final.
Five of the six Gusserane forwards contributed a point apiece from play to their healthy half-time lead of 0-9 to 1-0.
County player Seán 'Mini' Ryan was the odd one out but that was certainly no indication of his general play as his pace and direct running posed a constant threat.
The only glitch for Gusserane came in the 24th minute when a footblock on Eoin Roche led to a penalty which Shane McGrath hammered high into the roof of a net guarded by long-time forward Shane Cullen who was a new figure between the posts.
Prior to that the eventual winners had picked off six points on the trot, despite the loss of midfielder Cillian Kehoe to a black card in the 15th minute.
Sarsfields deployed an extra defender but it made no difference as Gusserane had so much time on the ball to pick out an eager forward at every opportunity.
Adrian Flynn conducted the orchestra from centre-back and they reeled off points from Graeme Cullen, Flynn ('45), Jamie Cooney, Kenneth Cahill, Flynn (free) and Mark Rossiter before conceding that goal.
Even then it was only a minor blip as further unanswered points from experienced substitute Philip Wallace, Páraic Conway and Flynn (free) left them clear by six at the interval.
The same service continued on the re-start as Graeme Cullen widened the gap to seven, before Sarsfields substitute David Mooney kicked their first point from play in the 33rd minute.
A black card for defender Liam Barry was followed two minutes later by the concession of a game-clinching goal, midway through the third quarter.
Kenneth Cahill dinked a neat pass close to goal to Adrian Flynn who was flying in off his left shoulder, and the county player made no mistake (1-10 to 1-1).
It was only a matter of what the winning margin would be at that relatively early stage, and it was no consolation to Sarsfields to outscore their rivals by 0-5 to 0-4 before the end.
They finally opted to go 15 on 15 early in the last quarter and ended up with a numerical advantage for the last six minutes after Gusserane substitute Darragh Doyle was red-carded after an incident with John Gannon.
Seán Ryan's constant hard work had been rewarded with a neat point beforehand after cutting in along the left endline, with Adrian Flynn (free), Jamie Cooney and Páraic Conway also posting points.
The consolation scores came from Shane Wilde (play and free), Eoin Roche, David Mooney and John Bridges (free) for Sarsfields who will need wholesale improvement for that must-win clash with Adamstown.
Gusserane: Shane Cullen; Cathal Somers, Liam Dillon, Mark O'Neill; Jack Burford, Adrian Flynn (1-4, 0-3 frees, 0-1 '45), Adrian Redmond; John Roche, Cillian Kehoe; Mark Rossiter (0-1), Graeme Cullen (0-2), Seán Ryan (0-1); Jamie Cooney (0-2), Kenneth Cahill (0-1), Páraic Conway (0-2). Subs. - Philip Wallace (0-1) for Kehoe, black card (15), Darragh Doyle for Rossiter, inj. (36), Matty Flynn for Cooney (60+1).
Sarsfields: Eoin Healy; Liam Barry, Michael Hanrahan, Jamie McDonnell; Fran Cleary, Seán O Corcora, Fiach O Crualaioch; Eoin Roche (0-1), Paul Gannon; John Bridges (0-1 free), Dylan Furlong, Seán Pailing; Shane Wilde (0-2, 1 free), Warren Broaders, Shane McGrath (1-0 pen.). Subs. - David Mooney (0-2) for Pailing, Cillian Lawlor for Barry, black card (37), John Gannon for McDonnell (42).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).