Match Report

Aghaderg 3-6, Ben Dearg 1-12

Date Filed: 21 April 2017

Aghaderg 3 - 6  Ben Dearg 1 - 12

Aghaderg senior footballers  welcomed Ben Dearg -  Kilclief to Ballyvarley on Friday night last for the opening round of league fixtures. The new management team of Mark O'Kane and Willie Fitzpatrick  were able to pick from a full panel of players. The long close season extending from mid September had been well used as a number of former players were encouraged to commit for the new season and a number of hurlers decided to give the big ball game another go. Training commenced in late January and a number of challenge games were played in the last month. There was an expectant buzz around the club. 

Ben Dearg were recent Intermediate championship winners (2011) and were unexpectedly relegated last year. A good performance would be a boost for players and management.  Ben Dearg were first on the attack but Aghaderg had set up with Aaron McAvoy withdrawn from the full forward line to act as sweeper and he broke up the first attack to put Aghaderg on the offensive. A misplaced pass returned possession to the visitors who with three quick passes put their full forward clear on goal. His powerful shot struck the bar and rebounded to safety. The Reds regained possession and built their attacks patiently from the back - Kilcleif struggled to cope with the close passing and support play of Aghaderg who were soon rewarded when Murray found C McAvoy  who set up the onrushing C Lennon for a well taken first goal of the season. Kilcleif replied with two points but were finding it difficult to find their way through the well organised defence. P McGrath with a free from 30 metres after C Comiskey was fouled and C McAvoy with a well taken point stretched the lead to three points after twelve minutes. The Reds were creating many clear cut opportunities as the elusive running of R McShane  and C McAvoy  and the support play of P McGrath, L Murray and C Lennon were stretching the visitors defence to breaking point but scores were scarce as a number of shots went narrowly wide and often an extra pass allowed Kicleif  to regroup. The stalemate was broken when C Comiskey was awarded the first mark of the evening. He found the attacking C Lennon who kicked his point from close range.  Throughout the second quarter Aghaderg remained dominant and after good work by McShane, Murray and McAvoy S Comiskey struck the ball firmly into the net from all of a yard and a half. The visitors replied with two points but the Reds with two points from frees by P McGrath after a foul on C Comiskey and C McAvoy after he had been fouled stretched their lead to seven points . The first half finished with the visitors having a lucky escape as P McGrath struck the crossbar from an acute angle. Half time score Aghaderg 2 - 5 Ben Dearg 0 - 4.

Ben Dearg upped their intensity at the beginning of the second half and within five minutes had added three quick points.  Aghaderg replied with their third goal of the evening when P McGrath fisted a C McAvoy free to the back of the net. However the Reds were struggling to regain the rhythm of the first half as the gap between the defence and the full forward line grew. They found it difficult to launch many meaningful attacks and often the attempt to link up with the full forward line fell short and into the sweeper's hands putting the defence under more pressure. Ben Dearg continued to chip away and with ten minutes to go scored a brilliant goal which reduced the gap to the minimum. A free for the reds drifted wide. As the minutes ticked away and the tension increased  the Reds attempted to run the clock down from a long range free but lost possession and Ben Dearg scored the final point of the game to tie the match.  Aghaderg 3 - 6 Ben Dearg 1 - 12

Aghaderg will be disappointed with the result as they led for all but the last minute of the game and were seven points clear at half time and after ten minutes of the second half. However their inability to recapture the intensity of the first half and the greater experience of the Kilcleif team resulted in an exciting finish and the promise of an interesting campaign for 2017.
Paul Colgan was safe in goal and contributed well with his well placed clearances, Thomas Lennon was the most prominent of the full back line while Aaron McAvoy was outstanding in his sweeper role. Christopher Lennon was man of the match with his support play and (1-1) from play. The mid field duo of Paul McGrath(1-2) and Louis Murray were effective throughout. Rory McShane's pace and movement caused problems particularly in the first half while Collie Comiskey's high fielding was a feature. Captain, Christopher McAvoy (0-3) was a constant threat with his pace and link up play.  

Team: Paul Colgan, Ryan Strain, Thomas Lennon, Ciaran Connolly, Graeme Donaghy, (James McGrath) Gerard Rice, Christopher Lennon(1 -1), Paul McGrath,(1-2) Louis Murray, Michael McGrath,(Keelan Doyle) Rory McShane, Colin Comiskey, Steven Comiskey(1-0) (Kieran Davis), Aaron McAvoy, Christopher McAvoy (Capt)(0-3): Subs. Conor McGivern, Niall McAlinden, Michael Lennon, Kieran McShane, Cathal McGrath, Ruari Conway, Steve McCann.