A dramatic finish to an excellent encounter keeps our JB hurlers season alive after a brilliant win over Midleton in sunny Shanagarry last Saturday. 1 point down well into injury time, Trevor O Keeffe won a free, 35 metres from goal. A draw would not have been enough for Aghada, so he flashed a quick free into Kevin O Hanlon. Kevin bore down on goal but was stopped illegally and Aghada had a penalty. Over an hour earlier the impressive Eoin Motherway had pointed more or less from the throw in, but Midleton had equalised and gone ahead within a minute. That had been the only time Aghada had led in the match up to this point. Now up stepped Mathew Leahy to take the pressure shot and the young wing forward rifled an unstoppable strike high to the ‘keepers left. The net shook and the Aghada supporters cheered, but there was still one more minute of injury time to play. Midleton had the sliothar for practically all of that minute but only managed to hit a wide ball before the referee blew the long whistle.
While it was a smash and grab in the end, and despite trailing for the majority, and being down to 14 men for most of the second half, Aghada can still feel full value for the win. Kevin O Hanlon who impressed greatly for the hour, finished with 1-3 but on another day could have finished with a hat trick only for some fine stops from the Midleton ‘keeper. Midleton did own the opening ten minutes and had raced into a 1-7 to 3 point lead. They were on top in midfield and especially in the half forward line and at this point looked like the better outfit. Slowly but surely though Aghada fought their way back into the game. Jordan Tynan thundered into the game at centre back, with Ben Stafford and Aaron Berry also putting up the shutters on Midleton's best line. Behind them Jack Norris was also impressing. And while we had struggled in most lines in the opening 10, our full forward line of Motherway, O Hanlon and Alan Creedon always looked to have the beating of their markers, and these 3 along with Leahy’s accuracy from placed balls got Aghada back into the game. The lead was just 3 points as we headed for the short whistle and though Midleton pushed it out to 4 on the stroke of half time, Aghada were still happy as at one point it looked like Midleton might run away with it. Still it could have been closer and Aghada certainly should have raised, at the very least, one green flag of their own.
The second half followed the same pattern. Midleton in the ascendancy for the opening 10 minutes. They outscored Aghada 1-3 to a goal in this period and were suddenly coasting at 7 points clear again. Soon after Aghada were reduced to 14, and at that point it would of taken a very optimistic Aghada supporter to predict the final outcome. Now however Aghada took over again. Aaron Berry got more and more involved , as did the cousins O Keeffe around the middle. When Tyler pointed just before the last water break the lead was down to 4 points and Aghada were back in with a shout. O Hanlon was still scoring upfront and substitutes Trevor O Keeffe and Lar Collins were in the thick of the action also. Collins won two scoreable frees and was going through a fair bit of timber aswell as the excitement was reaching fever pitch. Stevie hit a monster point from play and then Berry produced a scintillating solo run up the right wing before scoring what looked at that stage like it was going to be the score of the match. That left 2 points between the sides as the clock ticked past the hour. Now however our shooting radar deserted us as O Hanlon, Leahy and Motherway all spurned chances. On 32 minutes we did get the score of the match, and most likely the year, when Trigger surrounded on the sideline, 65 metres from goal, somehow swiveled onto his right and struck over his shoulder with his back to goals and sent the sliothar flying between the posts. We had another couple of misses before Hanlon was grounded for that penalty and Leahy did the business to send us marching on to the quarterfinal. It was a game that had everything with both sides giving it all they had. Great credit to our lads who never stopped going for it and got their just reward at the death. Well done to all involved.
Aghada Team and scorers – Craig Hogan, Richie Condon, Jack Norris, Alan Walsh, Ben Stafford, Jordan Tynan (0-1), Aaron Berry (0-1), Sean Og O Keeffe, Stephen O Keeffe (0-1), Rory O Connell, John Connolly, Mathew Leahy (1-8 all frees), Eoin Motherway (0-2), Kevin O Hanlon (1-3), Alan Creedon (0-1). Subs Used Trevor O Keeffe(0-1), Lar Collins, Stephen Daly.