U21 A HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP – 1st Rd – Aghada 3-17 v Bride Rovers 3-19; Castlelyons 29/7/2017
An incredible performance by Cork U21 player John Looney, who amassed a personal tally of 2-13, 1-8 from play, wasn’t enough to get Aghada past an excellent Bride Rovers side in Castlelyons on Saturday last. Aghada raced into a 7 point to 2 lead with 12 minutes gone. Looney had 5 of these scores, with Jack Mc Donald and Luke O’Connell getting the other 2. Slowly however Rovers found their feet and started to dominate possession around a crowded middle third. The next 12 minutes belonged to the Rathcormack outfit. They outscored Aghada 7 points to 2 in this period to even things up on the scoreboard. All bar one of these scores came from placed balls, and it was a failing of Aghada’s right throughout the contest that they conceded far too many scoreable frees. Bride Rovers varied their free takers, but all were accurate and they hit 13 points from placed balls – 12 frees and 1 ’65. That ’65 was on 20 minutes and it came after a point blank save from Aghada ‘keeper Ciaran O’Shea, and then the Aghada defence scrambled the rebound out for the ’65. The Aghada scores were two John Looney frees, one from distance and one after Luke O’Connell, who was playing well in the corner, was fouled in possession after taking a good pass from Marcus Leahy. Charlie Terry pointed from play after 25 minutes after Looney played a short free to him. From the puc out however Bride Rovers struck for the 1st green flag of the night, when they scrambled home a soft goal. They pointed a minute later and now after being 5 down they were a goal to the good. This lead didn’t last long however. Aaron Stafford fed Charlie Terry and he in turn set Looney off and the talented forward rifled home a great goal to the back of the net. The Aghada net minder was called on to make another good save on 30 minutes and then Looney had the last say of the half when he pointed from play to give Aghada the slenderest of margins at the break.
Aghada had the wind behind them in the 1st period and fortunately the wind died in the second half. Another John Looney free after being fouled himself, opened the scoring in the second half. But in truth it was Bride Rovers who started the better and had the Aghada full back line under severe pressure. They rattled the crossbar with a goal attempt on 4 minutes. On 6 minutes they won a penalty but yet again O’Shea saved Aghada with a smart save low to his right. But this was only delaying the inevitable and the Aghada defence was breached twice more in the next two minutes and this time the Rovers forwards made no mistakes and rattled off goals number 2 and 3. 4 points down, yet again it was Looney who grabbed the game by the scruff for Aghada. Now operating at centre forward he somehow managed to score 3 points from play in under 2 minutes. On 16 minutes Bride Rovers scored a fine point from play to lead by two. Charlie Terry was now operating on the edge of the square and he plucked a Jordan Tynan clearance out of the sky on 15 minutes before bearing down on goals and finishing one handed to the roof of the net. Aghada had the lead again but it was for less than a minute as Rovers equalised from a free and it was a real ding dong battle between two impressive and evenly matched teams. The Aghada half back line of Darragh Murphy, Jake O’Donoghue and Aaron Stafford were now playing well. Looney pointed from play and Rovers hit 2 more frees before the next major score. Charlie again plucked a ball out of the sky and this time was held back as he went in on goals. Looney, who else, buried the penalty. Both sides then exchanged points and with 5 minutes to go Aghada led by 2 points 3-17 v 3-15. However we wouldn’t score again. Shane Dorney picked up a second yellow on 27 minutes. Rovers pointed the resulting free and with the numerical advantage kicked for home. 3 points in the next 3 minutes, 2 frees, 1 from play gave them a 2 point lead as the game headed into added on time. Aghada never gave up and earned a 21 metre free on 31 minutes. This time Looney’s effort was easily saved, but the standout player wasn’t finished yet as he got through on goals one last time but the Bride Rovers ‘keeper was equal to his effort. From this clearance the final whistle sounded and Aghada were out of this year’s championship at the 1st hurdle. A great effort that ultimately came up just short but well done to all involved.
Aghada Team and scorers – Ciaran O’Shea, Kyle O’Shea, Mark Healy, Shane Dorney, Darragh Murphy, Jake O’Donoghue(capt), Aaron Stafford(0-1, 1f), Jordan Tynan, Jack McDonald(0-1), Daniel Creedon, Charlie Terry (1-1), Kalen O’Donoghue, Luke O’Connell (0-1), Marcus Leahy, John Looney (2-13, 1-5 f). Sub Used Mathew Leahy.