Bitter disappointment for Aghada last Sunday when we lost out by the minimum margin in the 1st round of this year’s football championship. This team has been going well in the 2019 league, but with poor championship results over many years, a good start on the day was still going to be important from a confidence point of view. Aghada threw down the gauntlet from the throw in, with Pearse driving forward from Tom’s tap down. Conor O’Driscoll finished the move inside 30 seconds. Pressure on the kickout, led to Cian Fleming winning possession and a sublime dummy and finish had us 2 up. The same player linked with Shane Bennett for Bennett to finish our 3rd on 4 minutes. Tim Hartnett forced a turnover in midfield on 6 minutes and the lively Aaron Berry kicked a fine score to make it 0-4 to no score and only 6 minutes played. Then however Aghada backed off the contest completely. Na Piarsaigh played a few short kickouts and with Aghada backing off were able to throw the ball about unchallenged. This seemed to allow the city side to grow into the game. 3 points in 3 minutes from the 11th to 13th minutes and suddenly it was game on. From here to the short whistle, the game was played mostly in the Aghada half, and Na Piarsaigh hit 3 more points from play in this period. The 6th point could have been a goal but for a fine stop from Ray Savage. After the blistering start Aghada only managed 1 more score – a fine point from Berry. We had 5/6 wides in this period, with some shots taken from poor areas. At half time it was Na Piarsaigh by one and they would have the wind for the second half.
Ronnie Power and Aiden O’Connell came on for the second period, but Na Piarsaigh opened the scoring with a point from play on 5 minutes. Aghada had a different attitude now however and were pushing up on their opponents all over the pitch. Another scoring burst soon followed. This time 6 points scored in just over 4 minutes and Aghada were rampant. The scoring slowed somewhat after that, but remarkably with 28 minutes played in the second half, Aghada had held Na Piarsaigh to only 3 scores with the wind and we were 3 points to the good as the clock ticked down. There was one more scoring burst left however and it was our opponents that produced it. Points on the 59th, 60th and 63rd minutes drew the game level. Both sides also spurned good goal chances in the dying minutes, but in the end it was 12 points apiece and extra time was needed.
Aghada again had the wind for the 1st 10 minute period of extra time. Crucially we failed to score in this time, and indeed only managed one shot on target which dropped short. Na Piarsaigh kicked two frees and had the initiative as the sides changed ends once more. They hit another from play to go 3 clear and it was looking bad for Aghada. Pearse, as usual, rallied Aghada. He drove forward once more from midfield, before releasing to Charlie Terry. The young forward buried a super finish to the bottom right of the Na Piarsaigh goal and it was all square again. The next kickout was vital, and the city men won it. They broke down the field and fisted an excellent score to retake the lead. Aghada had another goal chance soon after but it came to nothing. We missed a scoreable free and then with the last play, Pearse again drove forward and off loaded to Berry. He in turn found Ronan Kennedy who appeared to be bundled over going through. No whistle for a free came, instead just moments later came the long whistle and Na Piarsaigh were winners. Major disappointment for Aghada, but the backdoor route will be availed of in the summer. Right now we must dust ourselves down as we switch into hurling mode with 4 weeks to prepare for the hurlers first round against Cloyne.
Aghada Team and scorers – Ray Savage, Kalen O’Donoghue, Jake O’Donoghue, Kyle O’Shea, Shane Dorney, Jordan Tynan, Mathew O’Connor, Tom O’Neill, Conor O’Driscoll (0-1), Tim Hartnett (0-2), Pearse O’Neill (0-1), Shane Bennett (0-1), Cian Fleming (0-2), Danny Creedon (0-2, 1f), Aaron Berry (0-3, 1f). Subs Ronan Power, Aiden O’Connell, Jack McDonald, Ronan Kennedy, Kevin O’Hanlon, Charlie Terry (1-0), Aaron Stafford.