There was a beautiful balance to the Aghada team on the night. Trevor O’Keeffe was faultless between the sticks, John Paul O’Connor and Tim Hartnett were rock solid in the full-back line, Stephen O’Keefe and Aaron Stafford dominated the midfield area while up front the silky skills of Cian Fleming, John Looney and Will Leahy were complemented by the intelligence and work rate of Pierce O’Neill and Ronan Kennedy.
Aghada had the brighter start and led by 0-4 to no score after eleven minutes. Their much vaunted forward duo, Will Leahy and Cian Fleming were both on target along with Pierce O’Neill and Ronan Kennedy. O’Neill was very effective in general early on, setting up two of the points and generally making a nuisance of himself.
Éire Óg seemed to be suffering from nerves as they matched Aghada’s scores with wides until eventually Kevin Hallissey got them on the board. He was to be their only scorer in the first as he just about kept them in contention. He added three more points before the break but Fleming had three for Aghada and Leahy and Looney added further scores to give them a 0-9 to 0-4 half time advantage.
Looney and Billy Hennessey stretched the lead further on the resumption before Éire Óg finally got going and had three points in a row from Hallissey, John Cooper and Colm O’Callaghan to leave four in it, 0-11 to 0-7 with plenty of time remaining.
And when Dylan Desmond saved brilliantly from John Looney and the resultant ’65 went wide, Aghada might have left a few doubts creep into their minds. No such luck for Éire Óg however as two more points from Fleming, another point from Looney and the score of the game from Aaron Stafford brought their total to 0-16.
Éire Óg kept chasing the dream and Hallissey and Brian Hurley added a couple of scores but Agahda were never going to be denied.
It was by no means a classic, but what does that matter when you’ve just managed to win your first ever adult county-hurling title? Very little to the Aghada faithful, and there was a beautiful moment on the field after when the team and mentors were joined in a circle by throngs of young children who will all be now aiming that little bit higher.
C Fleming 0-6 (4 frees), J Looney 0-3, W Leahy 0-2, P O’Neill, R Kennedy, B Hennessey, A Stafford and K O’Hanlon 0-1 each.
K Hallissey 0-6 (3 frees), J Cooper, C O’Callaghan and B Hurley 0-1 each.
T O’Keeffe, T Hartnett, JP O’Connor, J O’Donoghue, B Hennessey, T O’Neill, S Wall, S O’Keeffe, J McDonnell, R Kennedy, W Leahy, P O’Neill, S O’Keeffe, J Looney, C Fleming.
D Rice for T O’Neill (25 mins), C Terry for Kennedy (51 mins), K O’Hanlon for P O’Neill (55 mins), D Creedon for Fleming (58 mins), G Melvin for McDonnell (60 mins).
D Desmond, P Kirwan, J Kelleher, A O’Connor, B Corcoran, D O’Herlihy, F O’Rourke, J Cooper, D O’Connor, E O’Shea, K Hallissey, A O’Mahony, P McDonagh, D Gouilding, J Dineen.
C O’Callaghan for Dineen (39 mins), B Hurley for McDonagh 44 mins), R O’Toole for O’Shea (54 mins), D McCarthy for Corcoran (56 mins), C O’Mahony for Kirwan (60 mins).
Mark Maher (St. Finbarr’s).