Intermediate Hurling Championship Rd 3- Aghada 3-15 v Ballinhassig 0-15; Pairc Ui Rinn 15/7/2017
Aghada are safely into Round 4 of this year’s championship having successfully negotiated our back door encounter with Ballinhassig’s second team in Pairc Ui Rinn last Saturday night. A few things looked out of place before the game even started with our opponents having no substitute listed on the match programme. On closer inspection, they seemed to have one sub togged out on the night. The pitch too was in a poor condition, considering the normal high standards of this venue. However neither of these issues seemed to bother Ballinhassig as they got off to the better start. With 5 minutes played they were 4 points to nil in front, and it looked like Aghada had yet to realise that the game had started. Now however Aghada started to get going. A couple of wides were followed by our opening score – a Cian Fleming free after Will Leahy was fouled. Kevin O’Hanlon opened our from play account, with a fine point after a solo run on 10 minutes. A few minutes later, the Ballinhassig ‘keeper batted a ball, he maybe could have left off, and Fleming whipped 1st time on the rebound to rattle the net. Now it was all Aghada. Ballinhassig would go from the 5th to the 30th minute without scoring and with only a couple of attempts at goal. Tim Hartnett, John O’Connor and Stephen O’Keeffe were playing well in the backs. O’Keeffe had switched from midfield to wing back on 5 minutes when unfortunate Mark Healy, making his 1st start, was forced off injured. Ronan Kennedy came on at midfield at that point. Upfront Aghada now started to rattle off the scores, hitting 1-5 in the 6 minute period just after the 1st goal. It was Fleming who also raised the second green flag, with a great goal after a blistering solo. With 2 minutes to go to the break, Leahy cut over a sublime side-line to give Aghada a 2-8 v 0-4 lead. Ballinhassig hit a free on 30 minutes and after Tom O’Neill had saved a close in free, Ballinhassig converted the resulting ’65 with the last puck of the half. Aghada led by 8 points at the break and would be against a nice breeze for the 2nd period.
If Aghada in the main had dominated the opening period, the 2nd half was a more even affair. Another Fleming free, and Hanlon and Leahy from play, with a Ballinhassig point from play in reply, all came inside the opening 5 minutes. Next John Looney saw a goal attempt saved and from the resulting clearance, Ballinhassig went the length of the field to create a goal chance off their own. Aghada ‘keeper Trevor O’Keeffe, who had a good hour between the posts, dived down well to his right to make a fine save. Ballinhassig were excellent from placed balls and converted the resulting ’65. A minute later Ger Melvin, who pucked the world of ball in the second half, was fouled and Fleming scored the free. Now however Ballinhassig came to the fore again. Stevie Keeffe made a great hook to deny them a goal on 48 minutes, but by then the South East outfit had hit 3 points without reply from play. It was 5 without reply, until O’Hanlon made a good run in from the corner to point after taking a pass from Aaron Stafford. Stafford hit a monster point on 59 minutes, but Ballinhassig hit 3 from frees in the closing 10 minutes, and as normal time elapsed it was Aghada 2-14 v Ballinhassig 0-15. Aghada would have the last say in the contest however, and it was fitting that the scores came from Aghada’s two best forwards on the night. Man of the match Fleming completed his hat trick of goals with a fine strike low to the corner and O’Hanlon pointed from way out on the right wing to end the scoring and send Aghada safely through into the hat for the Round 4 draw.
Aghada Team and scorers – Trevor O’Keeffe, Tim Hartnett, John O’Connor (capt), Jake O’Donoghue, Billy Hennessy, Tom O’Neill, Mark Healy, Stephen O’Keeffe, Ger Melvin, Aaron Stafford(0-2), John Looney, Kalen O’Donoghue, Cian Fleming(3-6, 0-5 f), Will Leahy(0-3, 1 s/l),Kevin O’Hanlon (0-4). Sub Used – Ronan Kennedy.