Goals win it for Bandon
Patrons at this county intermediate hurling championship first round game at Ovens on Sunday evening last certainly had little cause for complaint! Weather conditions were excellent, the Ovens pitch magnificent and the hurling skills and passion of the two contestants top class.
Aghada and Bandon were very evenly matched and finished the first 60 minutes level, necessitating 20 minutes of extra time to decided the issue. The difference between the teams at the finish was the ability of Bandon to get through for goals with corner forward Roy Payne, raising up two green flags, one in the opening period and the second in the first half of extra time, which proved the decisive score of a thrilling encounter. That goal came after a prolonged period of Aghada scores and pressure and gave Bandon the fillip they needed to drive on in front to the game's conclusion in failing light.
Aghada now await the losers of the Fermoy v St. Vincent's game in round two, while Bandon are through to round four and on this showing it will not be a surprise if Aghada join the South West team in the draw for that round of the championship.
The demeanour of the players on both teams as they awaited this throw in signalled that both sides were up for the contest and referee Diarmuid Kirwan was put on early notice to be ultra vigilant- which he was! Darren Crowley opened the scoring with a Bandon point in the third minute. Aghada quickly replied with a pointed free from Trevor O'Keeffe, who eventually finished with a personal tally of 0-8.
Points from Paudie Wall and O'Keeffe put Aghada in front before Roy Payne struck for his first goal in the 10th minute. Darren O'Donoghue's effort was blocked, the ball ran across the goal area to Payne first from ten metres and the corner forward lashed the ball to the Aghada net. Bandon were to remain in front until the dying seconds of normal time and Ronan Crowley pointed from play for Bandon.
Trevor O'Keeffe replied for Aghada from a free and then two further points from Crowley and another from Darren Crowley had Bandon four points clear by the 20th minute. Michael Galvin and Alan Creedon then had Aghada points but Jason McCarthy's point for Bandon on the stroke of half time left his side leading by 1-6 to 0-6 at the interval.
Bandon had looked the better hurlers in the opening half and considering that they would have the benefit of the slight northerly breeze they were in a good position at this stage. Their defence looked very strong and composed under pressure with Donough Lucey and Darren Ryan and Joe Burke excellent.
Ronan Crowley was prominent at midfield and Darren Crowley, Tomas O'Donoghue and Damien O'Donoghue were causing problems for the Aghada rear guard.
Aghada are renowned battlers and they certainly lived up to their reputation in the second half. County footballer Pearse O'Neill was introduced into attack with his county team-mate Kieran O'Connor, coming into the defence ten minutes later and after an initial period of Bandon pressure the East Cork men set about reducing the deficit.
Damien O'Donoghue and Darren Crowley, with a point a piece put Bandon five points clear immediately after the restart but Aghada scores from John Connelly, Cian Fleming and Stephen O'Keeffe had the deficit down to two points by the 36th minute.
The second Bandon goal followed three minutes later. Tomas O'Donoghue made progress goalward from the left wing, passed inside to Jason McCarthy. As a goalmouth scramble ensued the sliotar ran clear and Jason Hickey came flying in and lashed a ground shot to the Aghada net.
O'Keeffe and Ronan Crowley exchanged points from frees as the third quarter ended but Bandon were not to score again until extra time as Aghada began to dominate.
Michael Galvin pointed in the 48th minute after his earlier blast from a 20 metre free had been blocked and Trevor O'Keeffe's point from play four minutes later reduced the gap to a single goal. O'Keeffe now pointed a free from out near the sideline and Bandon were under enormous pressure. Both sides missed scoring opportunities before Pearse O'Neill's point in the 59th minute left only the minimum between the teams. The game had gone three minutes into injury time when Michael Galvin availed of good work by Stephen on Trevor O'Keeffe and fired over the equaliser points to the delight of the enthusiastic Aghada support.
The advantage had now swung Aghada's way and Pearse O'Neill put them in front for the first time in 50 minutes with a point two minutes after the throw in for extra time. Roy Payne levelled matters for Bandon and then Payne became the hero of the hour as he broke through the Aghada defence and fired a low ball to the net. Mark Sugrue tacked on a point but Cian Flannery replied with a point for Aghada to leave Bandon three points clear when the first period of extra time came to an end.
In the final ten minute period, as players were going down with leg cramps all over the field, Darren Crowley proved his worth with two invaluable points from play for Bandon. His first was followed by Aghada points from Connolly and Trevor O'Keeffe, both fine scores, the second reduced a three point advantage to Bandon with two minutes remaining. A foul on Pearse O'Neill yielded a point from a Trevor O'Keeffe free but the Bandon defence kept their goal intact and that was enough to give them a very hard earned victory after an excellent and most entertaining evening of quality hurling.
Scorers - Bandon: R Payne 2-1, J Hickey 1-0, D Crowley 0-5, R Crowley 0-4, 0-2 frees, 0-1 65, J McCarthy, D O'Donoghue, M Sugrue 0-1 each. Aghada: T O'Keeffe 0-8, 0-6 frees, M Galvin 0-3, J. Connolly, C Fleming, P O'Neill 0-2 each, A Creedon, P Wall and S O'Keeffe 0-1 each.
Bandon: S Murphy, J Burke, D Ryan, J O'Donovan, G O'Riordan, D Lucey, E O'Donovan, R Crowley, N O'Rourke, D Crowley, T O'Donoghue, J Hickey, D O'Donoghue, J McCarthy, R Payne. Subs; M Sugrue for D O'Donoghue (49mins) M O'Leary for N O'Rourke (60 mins), Vincent Goggin for J Hickey (75mins).
Aghada: M Day, T O'Neill, J P O'Connor, S Wall, P Kilbane, B Hennessy, M Russell, S O'Keeffe, G Melvin, J Connolly, M Galvin, P Wall, A Creedon, T O'Keeffe, C Fleming. Subs: P O'Neill for A Creedon (30 mins), K O'Connor for B Hennessy (40 mins), W Leahy for P Wall (45mins), P Wall for P Keohane (76 mins) A O'Connell for S. Wall (77mins).
Referee, Diarmuid Kirwan, Eire Og.
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