A GUTSY Newmarket effort proved in vain on a defeat to Aghada in round 2 to the County Senior Football Championship at Mourneabbey last Saturday evening.
Over the hour to a keenly contested back-door tussle hampered by a swirling wind, Aghada shaded the territorial stakes but at times shot wildly to amass a total of 18 wides. Indeed, a late Newmarket rebellion came ever so close to pulling the game out of the fire with a late TJ Brosnan blaster skimming the Aghada crossbar.
The sense of relief etched on the faces of the Aghada side at the full time whistle said it all where a tenth minute goal from corner-back Tim Hartnett against both the run of play and wind proved crucial to the outright triumph. And in doing so, Aghada gathered ample compensation for a defeat by Newmarket at the same stage last season.
Newmarket will understandably be disappointed to lose out yet they offered a substantial improvement to the first round defeat by Carbery Rangers. Matching their opponents in the key facets of play, Newmarket hung in to the finish and the performance offers encouragement ahead of a challenging third round in a bid to retain a championship interest and avoid a relegation battle also involving St. Vincents, St. Nicks and Dohenys.
Aghada laid much of the groundwork for their success in the opening half when playing against a stiff swirling breeze. they turned around a mere two points in arrears.
Backed by a strong elements, Newmarket had sprung out of traps, jumping ahead thanks to a Daniel Culloty pointed free before the same played doubled their advantage from play. Indeed Newmarket remained eager and enterprising, stellar performances from Paddy O'Toole and John Ryan in defence with Bart Daly and Colin O'Sullivan holding a structure and method to their game at midfield.
That allowed the momentum to remain with Newmarket, John Lane and Barry O'Leary tacking on points to build up a 0-4 to 0-0 advantage. Aghada had offered a degree of improvement, attempting to work the ball with an exchange of passing into the opposition half in search of goals rather than points. For a time, the Newmarket rearguard soaked up the pressure until the 10th minute on a sweeping Aghada move up the field that culminated on corner back Hartnett delivering a powerful drive to the roof of the Newmarket net for an exquisite goal.
In fairness, Newmarket regained the upperhand though a spate of wides undid promising work. Their accuracy did come right courtesy of points to Tony O'Keeffe and impressive wing back O'Toole. Aghada weren't found wanting, their accuracy a problem too before Michael Russell and Ronan Kennedy added to their tally.
Newmarket came ever so close to a goal of their own in the 26th min. a defence splitting move saw Michael Kenneally and O'Leary take a return pass from O'Keeffe only for Aghada 'keeper Raymond Savage get down to make a spectacular stop and save a certain goal.
Both sides forfeited chances from placed balls prior to Newmarket to find the range and a second O'Toole point helped forge a 0-7 to 1-2 lead at the short whistle. The consensus was Aghada had performed the groundwork in that opening half when playing against the gutsy elements to trail by a mere two points.
And Aghada served notice of their intent upon the restart, applying the pressure and Kennedy kicking a pair of neat points to square the contest. Forcing the pace, Aghada enjoyed control from dogged resistance of Hartnett and the Powers in defence with Pearse O'Neill and Eoin Savage growing in stature at midfield.
And up front, Aghada held the better attacking options, nosing ahead for the first time in the 39th min from a Michael Russell point.
That lead score allowed Aghada turn the screw, O'Neill pointing before the county man laid off to midfield colleague Savage to split the posts for a 1-7 to 0-7 advantage at the three quarter stage.
Newmarket attempted a rally but the wind and rain blunted their challenge for a spell. On the opposite side, Aghada's wide tally continued to grow though Cian Fleming did break the sequence on a point. Eventually, Newmarket did add to their interval tally in the 52nd minute from the boot of Ryan. Now the Duhallow discovered their second wind, ever so close to yielding an equalising goal on Brosnan's rising effort just above the crossbar.
Late on, Newmarket came raiding for a matchwinner yet for all their effort, the Aghada defence kept their opponents at arm's length to secure a win they deserved on their overall performance.
AGHADA: R Savage, T Hartnett 1-0, S Wall, B Hennessy, C Power, R Power, B Crowley, P O'Neill 0-1, E Savage 0-1, M Russell 0-2, C Fleming 0-1f, K O'Connor, T O'Neill, J O'Shea, R Kennedy 0-3 Subs: G Melvin for Power (43), S Cussen for Hennessy (45), M O'Connor for O'Shea (48), J Connolly for Russell (59)
NEWMARKET: D Quinlan, M Fitzpatrick, B O'Riordan, B O'Leary 0-1, P O'Toole 0-2, TJ Brosnan 0-1, J Ryan 0-1f, C O'Sullivan, B Daly, K O'Sullivan, M Reidy, T O'Keeffe 0-1, J Lane 0-1, M Cottrell, D Culloty 0-2(0-1f) Subs: M Kenneally for Culloty (15), P Allen for Fitzpatrick (40)
Referee: B Coniry (Crosshaven)