Too many frees and broken play made this a night for the free-takers which Aghabullogue’s Pa Finnegan won hands down, scoring 11 of his 12 points from placed balls.
In the end, Aghabullogue were that bit tastier and deserved their victory, leaving Kilbrittain to negotiate a clash with Inniscarra in the backdoor to stay in the championship.
Star of the show for Aghabullogue was Barry Kiely. Despite an early head injury, the centre-back was rock solid, his reading of the game sublime. Niall Buckley was also massive around midfield, as was goalkeeper Finbarr Foley, who made a match winning save from David Desmond in the 44th minute after a Ross Cashman goal had pushed Kilbrittain ahead five minute earlier.
The first-half proved a battle between the free-takers, Finnegan firing over six of his seven points tally and Maurice Sexton converting four for Kilbrittain, Brian Coniry’s stern refereeing ruining any chance of open play.
Cashman, who started at full-forward, had Kilbrittain’s two points from play as they led 0-5 to 0-4 after the opening quarter. But Dan Twomey was also menacing at the other end and his two points from play, allied to Finnegan’s radar like free-taking, enabled Aghabullogue to lead 0-9 to 0-7 at the break.
A much improved second-half though, much more open play as Kilbrittain resumed with Cashman now at midfield partnering Cian O’Leary.
Maurice Sexton quickly reduced the gap to just a point and although Finnegan followed with his seventh free conversion, Aghabullogue were stung in the 39th minute — Cashman darting through the middle and his shot just beating goalkeeper Foley, Alan Hayes on hand just to be sure.
But, leading 1-8 to 0-10 entering the final quarter, Kilbrittain failed to push on. With Kiely massive in defence for Aghabullogue. Twomey soon levelled the match with his third point from play. However, as Kilbrittain continued to transgress with some needless fouling, the sweet striking Finnegan punished them dearly, four frees in a row putting the game out of Kilbrittain’s reach.
Scorers for Aghabullogue: P Finnegan 0-12 (0-10f, 0-1 ‘65), D Twomey 0-3.
Scorers for Kilbrittain: R. Cashman 1-2, M Sexton 0-5 (0-4f), J Wall (0-1f), C Hickey 0-1 each.
F Foley; J Corkery, Denis Murphy, Donnacha Murphy; D Quinlan, B Kiely, D Buckley; N Buckley, P O’Rourke; P Finnegan, D Twomey, J Buckley; P Twomey, J Kelleher, P Murphy. Subs: P Kelleher for Kiely (blood) (2), J Foley for Denis Murphy (40), P. Kelleher for D. Buckley (60).
R Hayes; P Ryan, J Murphy, Denis Desmond; J Deasy, V O’Brien, D Hickey; C. O’Leary, C. Hickey; O. sexton, A. Hyes, M. Sexton; J. Wall, R. Cashman, David Desmond.
Subs: N. Quinlan for O Sexton (46m).
Referee: B. Coniry (Crosshaven).