Report by Vincent Rohan
Our premier intermediate footballers made the long trip west to Dunmanway last Saturday in search of their first win of the group stages after a good draw against Newmarket last time out. In truth this was a must win game for our men seen as the group was expected to be ultra-competitive. Aghada got off to a blistering start with Shane Bennett winning a free inside the first minute. Danny Creedon stepped up to split the posts and get us off to the perfect start. Almost straight away Aghada went on the rampage once again with Jake O’Donoghue making a good turnover on his own 45 metre line before feeding the ball up the field where Timmy Hartnett fed the veteran Pearse O’Neill who in turn gave a lovely pass to the on running Kevin O’Hanlon who cut in and just as he was closing in on goal showed the ultimate composure to calmly palm the ball across the square where the waiting Shane Bennett was on hand to fist into an empty net to the joy of the large travelling support. Our lads looked in top form at this stage and next up to split the posts was Danny Creedon with a well taken score from play. Aghada were in dreamland at this stage. However, this didn’t last long as from this point on Castletownbere took over. For the next 25 minutes our opponents would go onto score seven points without reply. Only for some good defence from our rear guard which included Jack McDonell, Donagh Rice and Kyle O’Shea the score line could have looked a lot worse for Aghada at the half time whistle. Aghada also had to be thankful for the terrific job Jordan Tynan did helping out his full back line. So when referee Andrew Whelton blew his half time whistle, Aghada found themselves 0-07 to 1-02 behind after racing into an early five point lead themselves after only five minutes.
The Aghada faithful had reason to be worried at this stage, especially seen as Castletownbere actually had a slight wind at their backs in the second half. The introduction of Aaron Berry and Cian Fleming either side of the short whistle seemed to stem the constant Castletownbere flow towards Ciaran O’Shea’s goal. In fact it was Berry himself who was instrumental in breaking Aghada’s scoring famine when he intercepted a Castletownbere pass out from the back before he was pulled down when he was bearing in on goal. Danny Creedon slotted the resultant free in what was Aghada’s first score since the fifth minute. Aghada now found themselves three down with 20 minutes to go. A big turning point in the game followed when Castletownbere’s half back was given his marching orders for an off the ball incident. From here Aghada drove on with the substitutes Berry and Fleming key in the final quarter. Berry himself scoring one with Fleming popping up with three minors. The young guns started to come into the game more now with Diarmuid Byrne making some great carries and his minor compatriot Donagh Collins now operating on his own forty where he was pivotal making some surging runs from defence with one of these ending in a fine score for Diarmuid Phelan. Aghada lost centre back Michael Russell and Donagh Rice through injury but one aspect that would have pleased Philip Moore and his selectors would be the contribution all the substitutes made. Dan Leahy, Neil Cunningham and Ronnie Power all making important contributions when introduced along with Berry and Fleming. A nervous moment did follow the final substitution, when keeper Ciaran O’Shea looked like he couldn’t continue after a collision when an opposition player. With all subs used it was Berry who was given the call to make his way to goals but just as he did, Ciaran just about recovered to proceed and finish out the game. To his credit he got his kickouts off even when he was struggling with his knee. So after all that drama the clock ticked into the red and Aghada thankfully found themselves two points up. A dangerous lead but thanks to some good team defending Aghada held on for a crucial win.
A win that became even more important when news filtered through that Na Piarsaigh had defeated Newmarket. This now means that our final group game is likely a winner takes all game in Carrigtwohill vs Na Piarsaig in two weeks’ time. First up though it is our premier intermediate hurlers against Ballincollig in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in what promises to be a historic occasion for the club in our first match back in the redeveloped Pairc in a week’s time.
Best on the day for Aghada were Jordan Tynan, Aaron Berry and Cian Fleming.
Aghada Team Vs Castletownbere: Ciaran O’Shea, Donagh Rice, Jack McDonell, Kyle O’Shea, Jake O’Donoghue, Michael Russell, Jordan Tynan, Pearse O’Neill, Donagh Rice, Diarmuid Phelan, Timmy Hartnett, Danny Creedon, Kevin O’Hanlon, Shane Benett, Diarmuid Byrne. Subs Used: Aaron Berry, Cian Fleming, Dan Leahy, Neil Cunningham, Ronnie Power.