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Divided loyalties for Cork club Sarsfields ahead of qualifier clash

Club mates will be putting friendships to one side when Cork and Wexford face off in Thurles tomorrow evening.

Eanna Martin will line out in goal for Wexford tomorrow evening.
Eanna Martin will line out in goal for Wexford tomorrow evening.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

EANNA MARTIN AND Eoin Quigley got talking in the wake of last Saturday night’s phase two qualifier results from the All-Ireland SHC.

Results in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Cusack Park had narrowed down the list of potential opponents that the Wexford hurlers could face and in a straight choice between Cork or Clare, the duo reckoned there was only one route the draw would go. On Monday morning, TV3′s Ireland AM programme confirmed what they had suspected as Wexford and Cork were lumped together, destined to square off tomorrow night in Semple Stadium.

It will be the county’s first hurling championship meeting since the 2004 All-Ireland semi-final but for Martin and Quigley the occasion is spiced by where they play their club hurling these days. Since the start of last year the pair have linked up with Sarsfields, the club based in Glanmire that skirt the eastern border of Cork city, that have claimed county senior crowns in 2008 and 2010, and that supply three members of Cork’s squad tomorrow night – Cian McCarthy, Conor O’Sullivan and Daniel Kearney.

There is immediately a layer of intrigue to the game. On the last Saturday in May the inter-county players, the Wexford duo and Cork trio, combined together to help Sarsfields defeat Cloyne in the first round of the Cork SHC. Last Tuesday night, they were pitted against either Blackrock or Bride Rovers when the fourth round draw for this year’s club campaign was made. But that local focus is now relegated as friendships are parked for one evening.

Martin hails from New Ross and was plying his trade at club level with local side Geraldine O’Hanrahan’s. He went to college in UCC where he played Fitzgibbon Cup and formed friendships with Sarsfields players. When he was looking for a club to train with while in college in 2010, they were a natural fit.

“I got to know Tadhg Og Murphy, the Kearney’s, William and Dan, and Conor O’Sullivan very well during UCC,” Martin told TheScore.ie. “I was with Wexford at the time but said to Colm Bonnar could I find a club to train with in Cork during the week because it was tough going back from college in time for training. He’d no problem with it and I got onto Sarsfields. They’d no problem and I found them very professional to deal with.

“I trained with them all during 2010 when they won the county and then at the start of last year I transferred to them properly. I was working as a sales rep in Cork and I’m now in another job as a pharmacy rep for Phoenix Labs which covers Cork, Kerry and Limerick. It wasn’t fair on the club at home, I was never training with them, just playing matches. The traveling was getting too much and I was living in Cork so I decided to join Sarsfields. Having (Eoin) Quigley there made it easier.”

Quigley’s links go back further as he has been living in Glanmire for a few years.

“Eoin is settled here now and he got married last year,” says Sarsfields club chairman Tadhg Murphy, the scorer of Cork’s famous winning goal in the 1983 Munster football final. “He’d have used our gym facilities and pitch before when he was with St Martin’s. Himself and Eanna then joined us last year. The two boys are very popular in the club. They’re good to take the banter and give it, so they’ve fitted in very well. They’re really part of the group and there’s no issues.

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“It’s nothing new for us, we’d have always been fairly open minded when it comes to welcoming new players. Tom Feeney and Peter Queally from Waterford were with us before and Kieran Murphy was involved with Cork at the same time. This is definitely a first though as I can’t recall someone from Wexford being involved with Sarsfields before.

“Once Cork won last Saturday night and there was a chance that this could happen, we sort of anticipated it. And the draw on Monday morning confirmed the inevitable. There’ll be a good crowd from the club heading up for it and people are looking forward to it.”

Cork’s Cian McCarthy will be in opposition to club mates in tomorrow night’s All-Ireland qualifier. Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Martin, who lines out in goal for Wexford but in defence for Sarsfields, headed down to the club last Monday night as normal with Quigley to do a gym session. The  jibes soon started in the wake of that morning’s draw but he has tried to keep a low profile since then.

“There was good banter in the club on Monday night and there was a good few texts and tweets going between us and the Cork lads. But we’ve left it off the last few days now. They’re a great club and have made us feel hugely welcome. But we’ve to concentrate on the difficult task in front of us now facing Cork. It’s a big step up from the last couple of games but playing the big teams in Semple Stadium is what you want to be doing.”

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