Nealon's last gasp goal earns Rossas another shot at Aghada

A MAGNIFICENT goal from full- back Paddy Nealon two minutes from time gave O’Donovan Rossa a deserved draw in this highly entertaining permanent tsb Cork SFC clash at Brinny yesterday.

Nealon was switched to midfield looking to break the dominance of the Aghada pair Aidan Kelleher and Pierce O’Neill and he certainly did that as Rossas, three points adrift, pinned the East Cork side in their own half for the remaining 10 minutes looking for an equaliser.

In difficult conditions, made extremely greasy by a heavy shower late in the game, a huge clearance by wing back Shane Crowley came to Nealon and he brushed his way past a couple of defenders before billowing the Aghada net to tie the game for the fifth and final time.

And with the momentum now with them, Rossas could have gone on to win the game in the four minutes of extra-time that were played, but Barry Casey will have nightmares about his two glaring misses.

Rossas elected to play against the strong wind despite winning the toss and should have paid dearly for that decision when Brendan O’Flaherty found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Kevin O’Dwyer after just 15 seconds but he blazed wide when it looked easier to score. Aghada enjoyed most of the early possession thanks to the dominance of midfielders O’Neill, who was outstanding in the air, and Kelleher and would not have been flattered had they led 1-2 to 0-0 after 60 seconds.

The tactic of playing Brendan O’Flaherty as an extra defender seemed ridiculous in the extreme given that Aghada had the wind advantage. It allowed Rossas to play the possession game from their own defence and with Conor McCarthy leading their attack in style, Skibb were delighted to be on level terms at the break at 0-4 apiece as Aghada kicked eight wides in that opening half.

From this position one would have expected the West Cork side to take control in the second half but they were rocked in the 33rd minute when the usually reliable Kevin O’Dwyer took a short kick out which didn’t work. The ball was played inside to Eoin O’Neill who made the Skibb keeper pay a heavy price by sliding the ball home to put Aghada three points in front. However, Skibb responded superbly and with Frank McCarthy, Niall McCarthy, Cathal Keohane and Don Davis in the thick of the action, they hit back with a brace of points and again it looked as if they would go on to win with something to spare as the rain cascaded down and the wind continued to rise.

Unfortunately for Skibb they lost midfielder Donal O’Sullivan with a leg injury in the 40th minute which didn’t help their cause. Aghada’s greater height and strength became very evident as the game wore on and with 10 minutes to go they had restored their three points advantage courtesy of points by Brian Morrissey and Eoin O’Neill.

As the tempo of the game picked up considerably Aghada were grateful for a magnificent save by keeper Shane O’Connell, who denied Conor McCarthy as Skibb came in search of an equaliser. It was very much backs to the wall defending by Aghada as Rossas came forward in waves and only some great play by full back Ronan Dwane and team captain Willie O’Donoghue succeeded in keeping their lead intact.

Rossas gambled by bringing Paddy Nealon out to midfield where he did some excellent work and when Shane Crowley lofted a high ball goalwards, Nealon was on the end of it to score that all important equaliser to sent the game to a replay.

Scorers: Aghada: E. O’Neill 1-1; J. O’Connell 0-2 (0-1 free); T. O’Keeffe, D. Creedon, G. Melvin (free), B. Morrissey 0-1 each.

Rossas: P. Nealon 1-0; N. McCarthy 0-2; R. Long, C. Keohane, J. Werner (free), B. Casey, C. McCarthy 0-1 each.

AGHADA: S. O’Connell; K. O’Connor, R. Dwane, B. Crowley; K. O’Keeffe, W. O’Donoghue, P. Kilbane; A. Kelleher, P. O’Neill; E. O’Neill, G. Melvin, D. Creedon; B. O’Flaherty, J. O’Connell, T. O’Keeffe. Subs. B. Morrissey for O’Keeffe; C. O’Brien for Melvin; S. O’Keeffe for D. Creedon.

O’DONOVAN ROSSA: K. O’Dwyer; P. Nealon, K. Cotter, E. Nealon; F. McCarthy, D. O’Sullivan, S. Crowley; D. O’Sullivan, N. McCarthy; R. Long, C. McCarthy, C. Keohane; J. Werner, D. Davis, B. Casey. Subs. D. McCarthy for O’Sullivan; J. O’Driscoll for Long.

Referee, G. Harrington (Carrigaline).

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