With the elements at their back in the opening period, the east Cork side recorded all but four points of their final total, including vital goals from William Leahy and Pearse O’Neill, which helped them to an eight-point half-time lead. While the midway point of the second-half had passed before Aghada scored again, Blackrock could not make the most of their territorial advantage, poor shooting letting them down though Mikey Ahern and Derek Gosnell did their best to eat into the deficit, scoring six of their eight second-half points.
Bar a late chance for sub Donal Cremin, which hit the crossbar, Blackrock never threatened to get a goal. In addition, the late withdrawal of Aghada wing-forward Eoin Savage into a sweeper role helped to repel Blackrock pressure to ensure that the Imokilly side held out. Early on, it was Aghada making all of the running, midfield pairing of Cian Fleming and Trevor O’Keeffe impressing as they pushed into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead before Leahy’s goal, the wing-forward profiting after being picked out well by Tony Wall.
While Ahern responded immediately with a Blackrock point, Aghada then struck for another goal, O’Neill’s pulled effort beating goalkeeper Paul O’Brien at the near post after a long clearance broke.
That made it 2-7 to 0-4, and while three Ahern points kept Blackrock in contention, they were still up against it as they faced into the second-half trailing 2-9 to 0-7.
Aided by the interval introductions of Eoin Smith in defence and Alan Browne at centre-forward, however, they set about eating into the deficit and had scored four unanswered points by the time 11 second-half minutes had elapsed as Aghada laboured.
But for some wides, Blackrock would have been even closer but Aghada were not making things easy for themselves either, Tony Wall going for a goal from a 20m free in the 46th minute when a point would have eased nerves.
An O’Keeffe free finally got them off the mark for the second-half but the momentum was still with Blackrock, Browne and Ahern getting them to within a goal, 2-10 to 0-13, and then two Gosnell efforts responding to Eoin Healy’s point to leave just two in it. O’Keeffe’s free from halfway made it a goal game again and while Cremin almost levelled for Blackrock, his shot bounced off the bar and away and deep in injury time O’Keeffe’s fifth free ensured that Aghada would be the ones going into round four, Blackrock having to face Dromina to avoid a relegation play-off.
Scorers for Aghada: T O’Keeffe 0-5f, T Walll 0-3f, W Leahy, P O’Neill 1-0 each, C Fleming 0-3, E Healy 0-2.
Scorers for Blackrock: M Ahern 0-7 (0-3f), D Gosnell 0-4, A Browne 0-2f, C Kilcoyne, M Drumonnd 0-1 each.
AGHADA: M Day; B Hennessy, JP O’Connor, K O’Connor; C Rice, T O’Neill, J Connolly; C Fleming, T O’Keeffe; W Leahy, E Healy, E Savage; P O’Neill, M Galvin, T Wall.
Sub: A Cotter for Wall (53).
BLACKROCK: P O’Brien; A Hogan, I Giltinan, J Heylin; R Curtin, E Cantwell, JP Carroll; M O’Donoghue, L Conway; D Gosnell, G Magner, C Kilcoyne; M Drummond, D Moran, M Ahern.
Subs: E Smith for Curtin, A Browne for O’Donoghue (both half-time), D Cremin for Ahern (51), P Bennett for Kilcoyne (55).
Referee: M Moynihan (Grenagh).