Senior football Championship 1st Rd – Aghada 1-16 v UCC 2-16 – 23/4/2017 6.30pm, Carrigtwohill
It’s hard to say UCC didn’t deserve to win this encounter, scoring 2-16 and playing some excellent attacking football, especially in the 1st half; yet at the same time, Aghada will rue a wide count of 15 v 3, and a soft goal conceded at a crucial point of the second period and can justifiably wonder if they should have come away from Carrigtwohill as victors themselves.
That crucial goal came on 22 minutes. Aghada had reduced the UCC lead from 6 points down to 3 and appeared to be in the driving seat, when a mix up with a kick out let UCC in for their 2nd major of the contest. In recent years that goal would have ended Aghada’s challenge and the game would have petered out to an inevitable conclusion. Not the 2017 vintage however, displaying no shortage of heart or fitness levels, Aghada responded in the best way possible to this latest setback. The O’Neill brothers won, or helped win, the next 4 kick outs and all 4 possessions resulted in points for Aghada – a Cian Fleming free, and 1 each from play from Will Leahy, Tom O’Neill and Pearce O’Neill. Suddenly with 5 minutes to play it was a 2 point game. Aghada had the next chance also, but crucially Aaron Berry’s trusty left peg left him down on this occasion. Instead it was UCC who pointed next, and the lead was back at 3 instead of down to 1. Aghada then missed a close in free, before Josh O’Shea hit a nice point on 30 minutes. But it was UCC who had the final say, when they pounced on another short Aghada kick out to hit an insurance point and guarantee the victory.
The game started 3 minutes early, both sides and referee chomping at the bit to get going and Aghada opened the scoring with an Aaron Berry free after Cian Fleming was fouled inside a minute. UCC opened their account and showed signs of what was to come with a very quick attack and point after 7 minutes. Next a lung bursting run from corner back Timmy Hartnett, saw him point after receiving a pass from Fleming. Straight from the kick out UCC replied, and then Berry and Tom combined to set up Mathew O’Connor for an excellent point. Yet again though UCC replied direct from the kick out. This time however they broke through the heart of the Aghada defence and finished well to the back of the net. Next Aghada wasted a number of chances. Attempts for points went wide, hit the post and dropped into goalies arms. Then Shane Bennett who played very well in the full forward line, broke through one on one v the UCC ‘keeper but saw his shot saved. Aghada would pay dearly for those misses as now the UCC forward line really clicked into gear and unlike Aghada they missed next to nothing when they got their chances. 4 points in 4 minutes opened up a 6 point lead. Aghada’s best player on the night was the ageless Pearse O’Neill and he stepped up for Aghada when he made a surging solo run beating a number of players on 22 minutes. He then off loaded to Bennett who made no mistake this time around, finishing well to the UCC net. Before the short whistle, Tom O’Neill kicked a super score with his left, and a super burst upfield from Berry ended in Ronan Kennedy pointing, but the college team had 4 points from play in the same period and gave them a lead of 5 points at half time on a 1-10 v 1-5 scoreline.
It was a 6 point lead 30 seconds after the restart. Pearse then kicked 2 points from play after being set up on both occasions by two substitutes, Jack Farmer and Josh O’Donoghue. UCC’s 12th point was their first from a dead ball, but Aaron Berry, who ran himself to a standstill, drove forward yet again to take a pass from Bennett and point smartly. Next Aghada were grateful to ‘keeper Andy O’Donoghue who saved well when tipping over a goal bound shot for UCC’s next point. UCC pointed a second free on 15 minutes. Cian Fleming again played very well leading the line upfront, but even his radar in front of goals wasn’t quite as tuned in as it was the previous week against Dohenys. He was fouled going through on goals on 16 minutes and pointed the free himself and when Pearse hit his 3rd from play on 19 minutes Aghada were building a nice bit of momentum. Josh O’Shea was fouled as he ran at the college defence and again Fleming pointed. The Aghada all Saleen full back line of Tim Hartnett, Kalen O’Donoghue and Kyle O’Shea had great second halves, and with 10 minutes to go Aghada were in a good position to really kick on. Then came UCC’s second goal and Aghada 3rd fightback of the night, which ultimately came up short. Next for Aghada footballers will be newly promoted Kiskeam in the backdoor game, and players, management and supporters will be able to take plenty of positives from this game into their next challenge. For now we all switch our attention to hurling championship in 3 weeks time v Ballygarvan.
Aghada team – Andy O’Donoghue, Tim Hartnett(capt)(0-1), Kalen O Donoghue, Kyle O’Shea, Jordan Tynan, Jake O Donoghue, Aaron Berry (0-2,1f), Tom O Neill(0-2), Conor O Driscoll, Will Leahy(0-1), Pearse O’Neill(0-4), Ronan Kennedy (0-1), Shane Bennett(1-0), Matt O’Connor(01), Cian Fleming(0-3, 3f). Subs Used Jack Farmer, Josh O’Shea (0-1), Daryel O’Brien, Aiden O’Connell.