Sarsfields suffer defeat

Declan Breen in possession for Sarsfields against Pearse Ogs.INLM20-141
Declan Breen in possession for Sarsfields against Pearse Ogs.INLM20-141

Former All-Star Ronan Clarke gave an exhibition of scoring and support play when his Pearse Og side became the first team to progress to the second round of the Armagh Senior Championship.

The Armagh city men had four points to spare over Sarsfields last Friday night at the Athletic Grounds - and Clarke scored seven.

Sarsfields failed to score for 29 minutes in the first half, having posted 2-1 across the opening moments.

Clarke, who was outstanding on Friday night, didn’t finish as top scorer for his side - that distinction went to the effective Mark Cullen, who hit 11 points.

The winners - who registered 21 points, shot nine wides and hit the woodwork three times - lost three former County players over the course of the game.

The three ex-Armagh men - Conor Clarke, Darnell Parkinson and Anto Duffy - all had to retire with injuries.

Sarsfields, for their part, certainly started each half in style.

With just 20 seconds on the clock, a Michael Stevenson lob was dropped over the line by the Ogs keeper and, one minute later, Thomas McAlinden found the net having been put clear by his side’s most impressive attacker on the night, Colin Stevenson.

The scenario of gaining a big early lead seemed to have a negative impact on the High Moss outfit, who struggled for the remainder of the half - with Mark Cullen, Chris Rafferty and Clarke shooting scores to put the Ogs side in front by 0-10 to 2-1.

Although Sarsfields only hit a single point in the second period until Johnny Reynolds popped up with a conversion in stoppage time, they brought the Ogs back down to earth with a quick salvo when Thomas McAlinden squared the game with a point and a goal in the 32nd and 33rd minutes respectively.

With Cullen cracking over scores from all sorts of angles and Clarke involved in almost every point, the Ogs won with an unflattering four points to spare.

Aaron McGaughey pressed high to take a parry from the Ogs keeper to strike his side’s fourth goal but, despite the slow start, the city side had more class and won with a little to spare.

Sarsfields have three league games in front of them - against St Paul’s, Dromintee and Tir na nOg - before travelling to Crossmaglen on July 7.

Before they play again in the Championship, the Trasna men will be aiming for several more league points on the board.

A first-round qualifier between Tones and Sarsfields remains an option.