East met west in mid Cork on Saturday evening as Aghada were comfortable victors over Castletownbere in their opening group game of the Bon Secours Cork PIFC in Kilmurry.
There was a sense of inevitably about this result from the start. Tim Hartnett gave Aghada the lead in the second minute and Castletownbere were never to be that close again as the East Cork outfit led by five at the break, six at the finish, had nine different scorers, and played the better football.
Castletown were overly reliant on Gary Murphy and Dean Hegarty up-front and once Aghada were able to shut off the supply to Murphy in particular, the men of the west ran out of ideas.
Even if they had some more creativity about them, however, it would have been difficult to defeat an Aghada side that were visibly driven by the events off the pitch in the lead up to this game.
The number four jersey was on display in front of their dugout, and it will stay there for the year as a tribute to their great comrade and club man, Kieran O’Connor, who was also named on their team sheet in a further touch of class that has defined the club over these difficult times.
Charlie Terry and Cian Fleming added to Hartnett’s opener to leave the Imokilly side leading by three before Gary Murphy opened Castletownbere’s account in the tenth minute. Kevin O’Hanlon and Aaron Berry pushed Aghada further ahead with Murphy again responding for the Beara men to leave it 0-5 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter.
Danny Creedon traded points with Murphy before points from Pierce O’Neill and Aaron Stafford stretched Aghada’s lead out to five. Dean Hegarty briefly reduced it to four with a free but Kevin O’Hanlon ensured Aghada led by 0-9 to 0-4 at the break.
They tightened their grip on the resumption by not allowing Castletown to isolate Gary Murphy in attack and while the scores dried up, they didn’t need to shoot the lights out.
Indeed, in the third quarter, they hit the post three times while only adding two scores through Fleming and Creedon but all the West Cork men could muster in response was another point from Murphy.
The final quarter was a formality, Creedon tapped over his third point, Dean Hegarty popped over two frees for Castletownbere before Jamie O’Hanlon brought proceedings to a close with a free to secure the two points for Aghada.
It leaves them on top of Group A alongside Newmarket while Castletownbere face into a must-win game against Na Piarsaigh next time out.
In these pages last year, Graham Canty referred to Kieran O’Connor as a ‘100%’ man and as the Aghada panel gathered around after the game, that was the message that was being delivered. All that they were looking for over these few weeks was what he was always willing to give; everything.
There would be no better tribute than that.
The team is correct as below for todays Bon Secure Premier Intermediate football championship 1st round. pic.twitter.com/qKMFJRvCB1— Aghada GAA (@AghadaGAA) July 25, 2020
D Creedon 0-3 (0-1 free), C Fleming (0-1 ’45) and K O’Hanlon 0-2 each, T Hartnett, C Terry, A Berry, P O’Neill, A Stafford and J O Hanlon (free) 0-1 each.
G Murphy 0-4 (0-2 frees), D Hegarty 0-3 (all frees).
R Savage, J McDonnell, E Leahy, K O’Shea, A Stafford, D Phelan, T Hartnett, M Russell, C Terry, A Berry, P O’Neill, C Fleming, K O’Hanlon, J Looney, D Creedon.
S Bennet for Fleming (52 mins), J O’Hanlon for Creedon (54 mins), A O’Connell for Terry (57 mins), J O’Donoghue for O’Shea (57 mins), Looney black card (60 mins).
C O’Donoghue, C O’Sullivan, D Dunne, O Byrne, S McCarthy, L Harrington, A O’Shea, A O’Sullivan, D Fenton, J Harrington, C Murphy, R Murphy, G Murphy, J Murphy, D Hegarty.
J O’Neill for O’Shea (29 mins), J Walsh for J Murphy (35 mins).
Colm Ó Mucháin (Cill na Matra)