A sizeable Aghada crowd left the immaculate Kilshanning Gaa grounds last Saturday in high spirits after watching our footballers play out a thrilling draw with Newmarket. There were a number of reasons for these high spirits. Firstly we were the team that ultimately drew the game as we were 2 points down as the clocked ticked into injury time, when two great scores from Pearse O Neill and Diarmuid Phelan, tied the game. Secondly, with 11 players missing for a variety of reasons we saw 4 debutants on the 15 that started the game, and an incredible 7 debutants before the day was over. And they all contributed handsomely to a great performance. But probably the most important reason, was that we watched an underdog Aghada team give their all in the Aghada geansaí from start to finish, sticking to their task right to the death in a very entertaining game of football.
Having lost championship to the same opposition by 5 points last year and short an array of regular starters, this game was always going to pose a huge challenge for Aghada. But right from the get go, Aghada laid down a marker that they were not going to be rolled over in any shape or form. Phelan opened the scoring after a charge up the middle. Himself and Donagh Rice dominated the midfield battle from the get go. At the back Jack McDonald, Donagh Collins and Aaron Stafford came out with a few early balls which gave confidence to the entire Aghada outfit. Newmarket after equalising from a free went on to miss a few early chances, while Aghada were that bit more efficient in front of goals. Pearse collected a mark at full forward and pointed, and then Phelan charged forward again only to be fouled going through. Danny Creedon pointed the free. 2 minutes later Newmarket hit the post, Ciaran O Shea picked up the rebound and that started a fine team move that ended with a point from the impressive Kevin O Hanlon. 4-1 at the waterbreak. Newmarket got their 1st score from play on 17 minutes, but Aghada responded strongly with a Creedon free and a beauty from Phelan which came after a surging long run up the left wing from Diarmuid Byrne and an assist from Kyle O Shea. On 25 minutes Rice who was having a great game in the middle, was forced off injured. Young Dan Leahy was introduced and tore into the game also. The last 3 minutes saw a scoring burst from our North Cork opponents as they hit 3 points before the short whistle with a Creedon free in reply leaving the half time score Aghada 0-7 v Newmarket 0-5.
A Kevin O Hanlon run drew a free on the restart and Creedon duly pointed. Newmarket replied straight from the kickout before O Hanlon got Aghada’s 9th score of the day. Next however we got another Newmarket scoring burst. They hit an incredible 5 points from play in the next 8 minutes as they started to win more and more possession around the middle. Aghada’s only reply in this period came from Aiden O Connell whose run from defence was spotted by Pearse and the recently married Aiden finished over the bar with his, by now famous, left leg. Aghada were still fighting hard all over the field, none more so than Conall Rooney at corner forward. Tim Hartnett, another to work his socks off for the hour, kicked a wonder score from the right wing to send the teams to the waterbreak all square at 11 points each. 2 more newbies, Jack Colbert and Neil Cunningham were introduced as we headed down the home straight and again got themselves involved in proceedings from the get go. We brought the oldfella to midfield to add fresh legs around the middle (there are no more words for him!!) and Pearse started to wrestle back control of the middle third from our opponents. A Phelan fisted point from play after good work from Cunningham, split two more Newmarket points from play. O Hanlon and Creedon almost, but didn’t quite link up for a goal chance not long after Phelan had stumbled when a goal looked on the cards but the Newmarket ‘keeper had an easy save. All meant that when Newmarket pointed on 31 minutes they were 2 clear and looking set for the win. Aghada never stopped battling however, and more importantly, never stopped wanting the ball. A composed team move, ended with Pearse pointing on 32 minutes. Newmarket still had an attack or two as did Aghada but with 35 minutes on the board it looked like no further score was coming. Jordan Tynan made one last burst up the field and Jack Colbert played a long hopeful ball in his direction. Hopeful because there was about 5 Newmarket players and just Jordan for Aghada, under the dropping ball. Somehow Tyler came up with the leather. A couple of passes later Phelan had it and though falling backwards he still slotted just over with his left peg. The final whistle sounded on the restart and Aghada had got the draw which was the least they deserved out of the game. So a point a piece in this round robin championship. As said at the beginning even though it was a draw it will still have put a pep in the lads step as we pick up the camáns for next week’s hurling clash against Ballinhassig. That game is next Sunday in Shanbally at 2pm. Once again we will be underdogs…..just the way we like it! Well done to all on yesterday’s performance and best of luck for the coming week.
Aghada Team and scores
Ciarán O Shea, Aiden O Connell (0-1), Jack McDonnell, Donagh Collins, Aaron Stafford, Kyle O Shea, Jordan Tynan, Diarmuid Phelan (0-4), Donagh Rice, Tim Hartnett(0-1) Kevin O Hanlon(0-2), Diarmuid Bryne, Daniel Creedon (0-4, 3f), Pearse O Neill (0-2), Conall Rooney. Subs Used Dan Leahy, Jack Colbert, Neil Cunningham.