Fermoy withstood a strong second-half challenge from Aghada to emerge with a three-point win in the opening round of the Cork IHC at Ballynoe on Saturday.
They were dominant for a lot of the game but an Aghada fightback ensured a tight finale.
The north Cork side got off to a fantastic start, knocking in a brace of goals and going six points clear inside the first five minutes. However, Aghada – wind-assisted – brought the margin back to two points coming up to half-time and were far more competitive in the closing 30 minutes.
It is a tough result for the Imokilly team as they now have to play second round ties in both codes and meet the losers of Blackrock and Milford in their next hurling match.
However, Fermoy were the stronger outfit and their ability to raise green flags was the obvious difference.
It only took three minutes before Jack Hutchings fired goal number one and two minutes later Paudie Shanahan blasted number two. Aghada were not near as productive at the other end and were too reliant on Trevor O’Keeffe for scores.
And it got even worse when the hard working David Geary gave Martin Day no chance and Fermoy forged into 3-2 to 0-5 lead after 20 minutes.
By the interval, and thanks to points from Pearse O’Neill, O’Keeffe and John Paul O’Connor, the difference was reduced, 3-4 to 0-9.
After the restart Fermoy continued to press on. The two O’Sullivans at midfield, James and Brian, and the back six were tight. However, improved play from Aghada resulted in a much-needed goal from O’Neill in the 40th minute, which narrowed the arrears to a more manageable 1-12 to 3-8.
But their momentum was broken straight away when Shanahan hit back with a brilliant goal from his knees, giving breathing space to Fermoy. They were now five points clear but the final quarter was still to play.
O’Keeffe went for goal from a close-in free but was denied. O’Neill and O’Keeffe points were sandwiched by one from Tomás Clancy.
With the gap down to four Fermoy had to withstand a relentless final five minutes compounded by the fact that wing-back Darren Murphy was sent off following a second yellow. O’Keeffe once more went for goal from a placed ball and it was again blocked.
Tensions were high when he tapped over a free with one minute plus injury-time remaining as Aghada were hunting in packs for an equalising goal. But Fermoy weathered the storm.
Scorers for Fermoy: D Geary 1-4 (1f, 1 s/l), P Shanahan 2-0, J Hutchings 1-0, A O’Connor, T Clancy 0-2 each, B O’Sullivan 0-1.
Scorers for Aghada: T O’Keeffe 0-9 (7fs, 1 65), P O’Neill 1-2, T Wall, JP O’Connor, C Fleming, G Melvin 0-1 each.
FERMOY: J Condon; E Clancy, J Daly, R O’Callaghan; D Murphy, D O’Carroll, L Coleman; B O’Sullivan, J O’Sullivan (capt); T Grumbridge, T Clancy, A O’Connor; P Shanahan, J Hutchings, D Geary.
Subs: K Morrisson for T Grumbridge (55).
AGHADA: M Day; K O’Connor (capt), T O’Neill, D Rice; E Healy, J P O’Connor, B Hennessy; C Fleming, B Crowley; T O’Keeffe, G Melvin, E Savage; P O’Neill, W Leahy, T Wall.
Subs: M Russell for K O’Connor (48), C Rice for B Crowley (55).
Referee: C Egan (Glen Rovers).
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