East Cork Junior B Hurling final - Aghada 5-12 v Youghal 0-13; Dungourney 29/9/2019
The Aghada faithful were celebrating in Dungourney last Sunday afternoon, when our Junior B hurlers won this year’s East Cork title in some style to bridge a 50 year gap back to our last success at this level. The sun shone on a huge crowd that lined the bank in Dungourney and the day had a real feel of the good old days of East Cork all or nothing championship, where all rivalries are local!. Aghada with a strong wind at their backs started the better. The experienced Ger Melvin the quickest to settle, setting up lively corner forward Matt Leahy for the opening score from the throw-in. Next up Melvin (recently returned to the parish after a period in exile across the water in Queenstown), drew a free which he converted himself and followed this up almost instantly with a point from play. Youghal had also opened their account with a fine score from play and after 5 minutes Aghada led 3 points to 1. Leahy had his second on 8 minutes, this time Stephen O’Keeffe supplied the pass. From the puck out Aghada again pounced and John Connolly pointed after being set up by Mathew O’Connor. O’Connor (more known for rarely finishing a football game), had been held in reserve in the previous 2 outings obviously with a view to unleashing him for the final. This plan worked a treat, when Keeffie again delivered a long ball to the edge of the square and O’Connor brilliantly flicked the ball to the back of the net for the opening goal. 1-5 to a point and Aghada were flying. Youghal changed tactics, a sweeper was deployed and almost immediately they got a grip on the game. It was all Youghal for the next dozen or so minutes. They hit 5 points without reply, 3 frees and 2 from play. Aghada were grateful that their fullback line of Richie Condon, Will Guiry and Luke Foley were all defending stoutly and never gave up a goal chance to the opposition. With 28 minutes gone however, Aghada only led by a point, and considering the wind, were not in a very strong position. Next up though, Aghada went on another scoring blitz led by Melvin. He pointed a ’65 and 2 frees. The second of which was earned by young Jamie O’Hanlon after a mazy solo run. Youghal pointed again as the 1st half ebbed into injury time. Then came a crucial score. Wing back Darragh Ryan pushed up on the Youghal sweeper (probably Kiptu’s idea in fairness) and plucked a super catch out of the sky, before drilling a low shot to the back of the Youghal net after a fine solo run. Excellent centre forward Marcus Leahy was the next Aghada player to bear down on the Youghal goal, but was fouled going through. Melvin pointed the resulting placed ball and sent Aghada in at halftime leading on a 2-9 v 0-8 scoreline. It had been a huge 5 minute period for Aghada, knowing they were turning to face the wind.
Youghal had the opening 2 points of the second period. But this game was decided between the 9th and 12th minutes when Aghada hit 3 goals in very quick succession. John Connolly pounced on a rebound off the Youghal ‘keeper and rifled an unstoppable shot to the back of the net. Another Ryan solo run set up O’Connor on 10 minutes and when his goal bound shot was saved, this time it was Matt Leahy who reacted quickest and batted the rebound home for goal number 4. Just when Aghada thought it couldn’t get any better, O Hanlon was soon blasting a 5th goal to the roof of the Youghal net and with 12 second half minutes played Aghada were 5-9 v 0-11 to the good. With Jack Norris alongside Tom O’Neill both on top in the Aghada halfback line, it never looked like Youghal were going to find a way back into this match. Tom now joins Fergie Wall as the most decorated hurler in Lahard, with Pearse a distance 3rd place. Whenever Youghal did get close to the Aghada goal, Brian Morrissey now at full back, had a real thou shalt not pass performance going on. And with Keeffie and Ronan McConville lording it at midfield, the Aghada supporters were able to enjoy the last quarter knowing the result was secure. 3 more Aghada points came before the end. A Melvin free earned by Marcus, a wonder point from O’Connor struck off the weaker of his two weak sides and a lovely point from O’Hanlon after being well set up by Luke O’Connell. The Aghada defence now with Ben Stafford slotting in effortlessly, and Kevin Hegarty flawless in goals, only gave up 2 points in this quarter. And with Alan Walsh and Vincey Rohan brought on to see Aghada home, the celebrations were soon to begin. When referee Arthur Murphy sounded the final whistle, Aghada were champions and the fans poured onto the pitch to celebrate with the team. Captain Richie Condon, Saleen’s most famous ever hurler, climbed into the new Dungourney stand to collect the cup on behalf of his team. We had a verse of Caledonia and then some great pictures were taken; including pictures with some of the 1969 winning team. John Wall was the skipper back then. Tim Garde and Pat O’Brien were also celebrating while John Motherway and grandson Oisin Counihan provided the family link between the two winning squads, 50 years apart.
Great credit is due manager Aiden Kelleher and to all players and management involved. The final was this team’s 17th game of the year, which is a massive total and effort for our 2nd hurling team, Congrats to all.
Aghada team and scorers – Kevin Hegarty, Richie Condon, Will Guiry, Luke Foley, Jack Norris, Tom O’Neill, Darragh Ryan (1-0), Stephen O’Keeffe, Brian Morrissey, Jamie O’Hanlon(1-1), Marcus Leahy, Ger Melvin (0-7, 5f,1’65), Mathew O’Connor(1-1), John Connolly(1-1), Mathew Leahy (1-2). Subs Used Ronan McConville, Ben Stafford, Luke O’Connell, Alan Walsh, Vincey Rohan.
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