Castlehaven dig deep to edge Aghada

Last season’s finalists Castlehaven won their opening battle for supremacy in the Cork senior football championship in Newcestown yesterday afternoon after a fiercely contested tie against East Cork outfit Aghada.

Castlehaven trailed 0-5 to 0-4 at the break as they struggled to stamp their authority on the game with Aghada producing some excellent passages of play despite playing into a hefty breeze. However Castlehaven’s play improved upon the resumption and by the 40th minute they were level at 0-8 apiece, before then kicking for home in the final quarter as they outscored their opponents by 0-4 to 0-1.

“Overall we’re just happy to have got through it,” outlined selector Niall Cahalane afterwards. “It was a tough battle but with first round games, you’re always going into the unknown. I thought for a while we were flat but we played reasonably well into the breeze. We still had a lot of raw wides as well and we created goal chances but didn’t take them. We probably should have got a penalty though when our corner-forward came across the square with a man up on his back for about five yards. But we’ll take the win.”

Castlehaven were grateful to attacking input of Cork senior Mark Collins and Stephen Hurley, who made a big impact here after being hampered by injury that affected his availability last year. They contributed 0-8 between them with Collins playmaking skills at centre-forward and Hurley’s trickery at corner-forward proving invaluable.

They needed those contributions in the second half as Aghada had opening brightly and provided a serious test for Castlehaven. Their big guns showed up well with Cork senior KieranO’Connor doing a superb man-marking job in nullifying danger men Brian Hurley while Pearse O’Neill was on top around the middle in the first half.

In addition wing-back Stephen Wall was impressive while the policy of isolating young forwards Josh O’Shea and Cian Fleming close to goal paid off as their searing pace frequently carved open the Castlehaven defence. Goalkeeper Andrew O’Donoghue also made a smart save to deny Mark Collins a 20th minute goal and they were full value for their interval lead.

The early stages of the second half were characterised by high quality scoretaking on both sides with seven points registered in the opening 10 minutes of that period. Stephen Hurley hit a couple of sparkling efforts for Castlehaven while captain Seanie Cahalane saw his effort for a goal flash just over the bar. Aghada were not to be undone in the scoring department and a fantastic point from a sideline with the outside of his right boot by Fleming left the teams locked together at 0-8 apiece with 20 minutes left.

But then Castlehaven assumed control in the middle third with Damien Cahalane, Chris Hayes and Dermot Hurley ensuring they started to monopolise possession. A steady stream of chances was generated for their attack as a consequence and they could have easily found the net on occasion. Mark Collins twice blasted fierce close-range drives over the crossbar and they looked to be denied a penalty in the 47th minute when Stephen Hurley was grounded near goal. But with Castlehaven’s defence in a miserly mood, Aghada were restricted to just a single point in the final quarter from Fleming. The West Cork men grabbed points from Hayes, Collins and Cahalane to secure their progression to the fourth round while Aghada must prepare for a backdoor meeting with Newmarket.

Scorers for Castlehaven: M Collins 0-5 (0-1f), S Hurley 0-3, D Burns, D Cahalane (0-1f), C Hayes, S Cahalane 0-1 each.

Scorers for Aghada: C Fleming 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 sideline), J O’Shea 0-2, S Wall 0-1.

CASTLEHAVEN: A Seymour; S Collins, L Collins, T O’Leary; D Cahalane, D Limrick, C Hayes; D Hurley, S Dineen; A Cahalane, M Collins, D Burns; B Hurley, S Cahalane, S Hurley.

Subs: M Cahalane for Limrick (20), R Whelton for A Cahalane (50).

AGHADA: A O’Donoghue; S Cashman, B Hennessy, K O’Connor; B Flaherty, B Crowley, S Wall; P O’Neill, E Healy; M Russell, G Melvin, T O’Neill; J O’Shea, C Fleming, T Wall.

Subs: E Savage for Healy (40), C Power for Melvin (43), B Wall for Hennessy (57).

Referee: Pat O’Leary (Kilmurry).

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