Clonakilty 3-13 Aghada 0-9: An unrivalled Cork County SFC record stretching back 84 years remains intact following this backs-to-the-wall effort from Clonakilty at Brinny yesterday, when they easily overcame Aghada in a relegation play-off.
Clonakilty have enjoyed a proud place in the senior ranks since 1932 and there were those who worried about whether that would continue.
The way they set about their business was a source of delight for their anxious supporters and they have every reason to celebrate a high quality victory over a dogged but outplayed Aghada outfit.
Team manager Michael “Haulie” O’Neill was brought back to help the side in recent weeks but insisted this victory was not down to anything special he produced.
“It’s all about the players, these guys are making their own history, I would have been relegated in my time as a player if there had been relegation, these lads are good footballers and I didn’t have to do anything to motivate them.
"They got together collectively and took responsibility for what needed to be done to keep them in the senior ranks; they know they’re good enough to play at this level.
“To be fair, they were unlucky in other games, they missed penalties against Skibbereen and against St Nick’s, things might not have worked out today but it went for us.
“We were in control in the first half but I really felt we needed to have three more points before I would have been happy that we could have won. We missed a few bad points in the first half but went on to build from there.” O’Neill reiterated his view that the club can build on this.
“Nothing changes, they’re all good footballers, they put their heads down and they worked, I did nothing other than make myself available.”
They struck quickly to dispel any doubts about their ability, scoring a couple of goals and scorching into a 2-7 to 0-4 lead by the break.
Even though Clon left eight points behind them in that opening half, there was never a doubt that they were the superior force in that first 30 minutes.
They were 1-4 in front with a goal and a point from Jonathan Leahy and two points from Sean White, before Aghada had their first score in 10 minutes from Josh O’Shea, followed quickly by another from Aaron Barry.
But while the East Cork side had a third point from Pearse O’Neill after 17 minutes, Clonakilty finally got back into the groove after a poor spell when they left three points behind them through wides.
Surprisingly, Leahy was substituted after his contribution but replacement Ross Mannix made an immediate impact, knocking over two excellent points to rock Aghada back on their heels after they enjoyed a number of promising attacking moments.
A surging run by Finbarr Coughlan was important in the build-up to a second goal, Ian Falvey adding to the Clonakilty joy when he gave Andrew O’Donoghue in the Aghada goal no chance. At that stage the result was only heading in one direction, with the favourites nine points to the good.
Aghada’s Pearse O’Neill did his best to get his side back into the game, kicking three second-half points but it was an altogether uphill struggle as Clonakilty kept a firm grip on the game.
Tom Clancy and Gearoid Barry responded to two early Aghada points and then David Lowney went through for a fine individual goal. Jack O’Mahony and Jonathan Leahy, back on the field for another spell, added a couple of points each. The Clon support could only enjoy it and wonder where was this form throughout the summer.
Scorers for Clonakilty:
J Leahy, I Falvey (1-1 each), D Lowney (1-0), S White, T Clancy, R Mannix, J O’Mahony, J Leahy (0-2 each), G Barry 0-1.
Scorers for Aghada:
P O’Neill (0-4), J O’Shea (0-2), J Looney, J O’Donoghue, A Barry (0-1 each).
P O’Regan; C O’Donovan, F Coughlan, C Sheehy; S White, T Clancy, D Murphy; S Nagle, D Lowney; J O’Mahony, G Barry, I Falvey; D Lyons, J Leahy, S McEvoy.
R Mannix for J Leahy (23); G Murray for Lyons (39); J Leahy for D Lowney (43); T O’Connell for C Sheehy (49); P O’Sullivan for J O’Mahony (54); L O’Donovan for T Clancy (57).
A O’Donoghue; K O’Connor, S Wall, E Leahy; B Hennessy, JP O’Connor, T Hartnett; C O’Driscoll, T O’Neill; J O’Shea, P O’Neill, J O’Donoghue; A Barry, M O’Connor, J Looney.
C Fleming for M O’Connor (half time), C Russell for C O’Driscoll (33), S O’Keeffe for JP O’Connor (40), C O’Donoghue for M Russell (black card).
J Dorgan (Nemo Rangers)
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