B KENNEALLY REPORTS
HISTORY was made in Cill na Martra last Sunday when Aghinagh won their first ever Mid Cork junior C football championship title.
Clondrohid gave Aghinagh a stiff challenge and at times in the second half looked as if they would prevail, but ten minutes from time the eventual champions got back in front and consolidated their position with two late points to emerge clear winners.
Aghinagh had to play two thirds of this 13-a-side game at a numerical disadvantage after losing a defender to a red card in the 23rd minute, but had the fitness and the strong panel required to overcome this handicap.
The opening exchanges were even with the sides level at 0-2 each after ten minutes before Diarmuid Crowley kicked two points to double Aghinagh’s lead. The winners then hit Clondrohid with a double whammy, two goals in rapid succession to take a commanding eight point lead. Andrew Murphy and Seamus O’Leary made the first opening for Kieran Lehane, and Kevin Cotter rounded his marker to fire home the second in the 14th minute, 2-4 to 0-2 the score then.
Clondrohid did not wilt and their increased efforts were rewarded with four points in a row, two from danger man Fergal Kelleher and one each from Ray Fallon and Matt O’Leary to which Aghinagh replied with a 20th minute point from Diarmuid Crowley.
Minutes later the game took a dramatic turn when Aghinagh lost Tim O’Leary to a red card and Clondrohid were now really back into contention. Two further points from Fergal Kelleher left them only three points adrift at the interval when Aghinagh led by 2-5 to 0-8.
Clondrohid resumed with an all-out onslaught and points from Michael Walsh and Kelleher quickly reduced the deficit to the minimum. In the 34th minute they took the lead for the first time when Alan Duggan found Matt O’Leary all alone in front of goal and the latter belted the ball past Paul O’Sullivan in the Aghinagh goal.
Points were exchanged before another Fergal Kelleher point (again set up by Declan Kelleher) made it 1-12 to 2-6 in the 41st minute and a Clondrohid victory now seemed a distinct possibility.
Aghinagh showed their true worth in their response to the challenge presented, with their introduction of fresh legs off the bench playing a major part in their rally.
The industrious Andrew Murphy and Diarmuid Crowley kicked over from play and Crowley’s point from a free levelled the scores in the 48th minute.
Seamus O’Leary pointed to put Aghinagh back in front and then Aghinagh struck for the vital third goal, Seanie Twohig’s pin-point cross landing in the welcoming arms of Diarmuid Crowley who belted home from close range to open up a four-point lead.
Aghinagh goalkeeper Paul O’Sullivan and team captain Daniel Crowley combined to deny Fergal Kelleher of a goal in a fierce scramble on the line in the 52nd minute but Alan Duggan pointed a 45 to reduce the gap to three points and Aghinagh lost a man for a black card offence, Fergal Kelleher pointing the resultant free to leave only two points between the teams with as many minutes remaining.
Excitement was at fever pitch now but Kieran Lehane steadied Aghinagh nerves with a point and Paudie Twohig ensured his side of victory with a super late point from a very tight angle.
Aghinagh: Diarmuid Crowley 1-7 (4f), K Lehane 1-2, K Cotter 1-0, A Murphy, S O’Leary, P Twohig 0-1 each.
Clondrohid: F Kelleher 0-9 (3f), M O’Leary 1-1, M Walsh 0-2, R Fallon, A Duggan (45) 0-1 each.
Aghinagh: Paul O’Sulllivan; Noel Lehane, Michael O’Connell; Tim O’Leary, Andrew Murphy, Richard Cotter; Con Lehane, Sean Dineen; Daniel Crowley, Seamus O’Leary, Kieran Lehane; Diarmuid Crowley, Kevin Cotter.
Subs: Paudie Twohig, Jordan Burns, Sean Twohig, Chris Duggan.
Clondrohid: Martin O’Mahony; Anthony O’Leary, Ray Fallon; Shane O’Brien, Conor Desmond, Oliver Kelleher; Alan Duggan, Brendan O’Callaghan; Thomas Butler, Matt O’Leary, Michael Walsh; Declan Kelleher, Fergal Kelleher.
Subs: Neil Corkery, Richard Balfe, Neilus Murphy.
Referee: Ciarán Ó Fóirréidh (Cill na Martra).