No question first-half goals from Andrew Cronin and Pat Dunlea went a long way to winning this one for Canovee. They had been showing impressive early league form and carried that momentum into a tricky contest despite a poor start and only scoring four second-half points.
Yet despite trailing by three opening Aghabullogue scores, Ivan O’Sullivan pointing after only two minutes and Donal Cullinane following with two more fine efforts, Canovee kept their rhythm despite that lethargic start which only yielded a solitary PatDunlea point in the 13th minute as they trailed 0-3 to 0-1 after the opening quarter.
Aghabullogue were rocked in the 16th minute when fine work by Dara Ring and Con Dunne set up centre-forward Cronin and he made no mistake for a goal that breathed new life into Canovee.
Ivan O’Sullivan did get Aghabullogue level, but then a second Canovee goal in the 21st minute, this time Sean O’Connor and Denis O’Sullivan doing the spade work for Dunlea to finish to the net.
With Eamonn Lyons in control at midfield and Canovee playing with a new urgency, sweet points followed from Sean O’Connor and Denis O’Sullivan (twice) which shot them into a 2-4 to 0-5 interval lead.
Canovee continued to dominate in the third quarter, Aghabullogue keeper John Buckley making a smart save to deny young substitute Andrew Moynihan. But, leading 2-6 to 0-6 entering the final 15 minutes, it was clear Aghabullogue needed a goal and it came in the 47th minute, a real beauty too from Michael O’Sullivan after good graft by John Corkery and Cullinane.
There was more drive in Aghabullogue now, Corkery firing over two fine points to leave just two between the sides with six minutes remaining. But when substitute Brian Buckley was red carded Canovee stamped their authority with a smashing late point from Lyons.
Scorers for Canovee: P Dunlea 1-2, A, Cronin 1-1, D O’Sullivan, S O’Connor 0-2 each, E Lyons 0-1.
Scorers for Aghabullogue: M O’Sullivan 1-1, I O’Sullivan 0-3, D Cullinane, J Corkery 0-2 each.
CANOVEE: D Wiseman; Donal O’Sullivan, SMcCarthy, G Lucey; B. Ahern, T Lyons S O’Brien; E Lyons, G Ahern; Denis O’Sullivan, A, Cronin, C Dunne; P Dunlea, S O’Connor, D Ring.
Sub: A Moynihan for Dunne (35).
AGHABULLOGUE: J Buckley; D Murphy, M O’Brien, J Corkery; S Dennehy, D Buckley, S O’Sullivan; D Merrick, J Kelleher; I O’Sullivan, N Buckley, T O’Leary; M O’Sullivan, D Cullinane, J Corkery.
Subs: B Buckley for O’Leary (ht), R O’Keeffe for N Buckley (36), E Kennedy for Merrick (43).
Referee: J Larkin (Douglas).