CLONAKILTY V AGHADA SENIOR FOOTBALL RELEGATION FINAL REPORT 27-09-2015
The dreaded 2015 senior football relegation final between Clon and Aghada took place in Brinny on Sunday afternoon, September 27th. The build-up to the game had been dominated by reflections on Clon's long and distinguished servive to Cork football at senior level. Among supporters there was a real fear that the team would be relegated for the first time in its history. The performances in the three earlier championship games had been so abject that Aghada were favourites in many peoples minds, with the “Irish Examiner” preview on the previous day concluding that Aghada would win. The “Southern Star” had printed a special call to arms to Clon, defiantly asking the players to “Stand and fight”. There was enormous interest in the game and a very large crowd gathered at the excellent Brinny pitch on a fine Autumn afternoon. Clon supporters certainly rallied to the call to support the team and there was a rousing welcome for the players as they took the field. As the teams lined up for the throw-in there was a real air of expectancy and tension among the large crowd. Clon played with the advantage of the fresh breeze that blew from the roadside goal to the dressingroom goal. Clon supporters were soon in fine voice as Sean White burst forward from mid-field to kick over a lovely point from thirty metres out after just two minutes of play. This was quickly followed by a lovely point from Johnny Leahy, who was to have a huge influence on the game. After Clon had continued to dominate and had missed a number of scoring opportinuties the game really burst to life after seven minjutes when Leahy held his cool to slot home a peach of a goal from thirteen metres out following great work by Denis Murphy, a player who was outstanding all through. This score really settled Clon nerves and they proceeded to play with great assurance after that, always looking in control and really pressurising the Aghada players with the result that possession was regularly turned over by under pressure Aghada players. The East Cork men finally opened their account with a point from play in the tenth minute but Sean White replied with a similar score almost immediately. Aghada then enjoyed a few minutes of good possession and added two points from play but Thomas Clancy scored a very good point from play to steady the ship for Clon. Though Aghada did get another point from play after twenty two minutes Clon finished the half in great style, beneifitting from an improvement at mid-field and almost complete dominance from the half-back line of Denis Murphy, Clancy and White. With a generous supply of ball, the Clon forwards were causing havoc for the beleagoured Aghada defence and impressive sub, Ross Mannix, knocked over two lovely points from play. Mannix had been introduced for Leahy who had taken a few knocks, though he later came back on in the second half to torment the opposition. With Clon dominating play it came as no surprise when the Aghada defence was breached a minute before the break and Ian Falvey, playing probably his best game in a Clon jersey, crashed home a great goal after a wonderful movement that had begun with a sixty metre solo run from Finbarr Coughlan. Clon supporters were certainly on good terms with themselves at the short whistle with the team leading on a score of 2-07 to 0-04. In addition, the commitment and energy displayed by the team in the opening half was excellent and there was a great air of confidence that the dreaded drop would be avoided.
Though Aghada, aided by the breeze, did open the scoring with a fine point from play in the opening minute of the second half Clon were well in command and an excellent point from play by the very influential Thomas Clancy after four minutes restored Clon's nine point lead. Gearoid Barry, who worked hard all day to great effect, added a similar score a minute later. In the sixth minute Aghada did score a point from play but the East Cork men were to fail to register another score for almost a quarter of an hour as a rampant Clon side took complete control and killed the game off as a contest. In the seventh minute a delightful move ended with the ever dangerous David Lowney goaling from a tight angle and Aghada heads dropped. Jack O Mahony, who worked very hard and distributed the ball well throughout, score two fine points from frees as the Aghada defenders resorted to fouling the rampant Clon forwards. Johnny Leahy, now back on, added two delightful points from difficult angles out on the right wing, on either side of a fine point from play by Aghada. The final two scores of the game, points from play, fell to Aghada but they were greeted with silence as the result was now beyond doubt. Clon were comfortable winners and their cherished senior status was secure. The final score was 3-13 to 0-09. Clon supporters gave the players a long and well deserved round of applause after the final whistle and there were great scenes of joy, as the players celebrated and relieved supporters showed their appreciation. The transformation in the team between the abject performance against St, Nicks and this game was truly astonishing. Much of the credit has to go to Mike “Haulie” O'Neill and trainer, Neil Deasy. Having been brought on board in mid-season, they played a huge role in transforming the team from virtual certainties for relegation into a finely tuned and competitive side, well capable of holding their own at this level.
Team; Pa. O'Regan, Cian O'Donovan, Finbarr Coughlan, Colm Sheehy, Sean White, Thomas Clancy, Denis Murphy, Sean Nagle, Donal Lyons (c), Jack O'Mahony, Gearoid Barry, Ian Falvey, David Lowney, Johnny Leahy and Sean Mc Evoy. Subs used; Ross Mannix for Leahy(23), Graham Murray for Lyons (40), Leahy for Lowney (43), Tiarnan O'Connell for Sheehy(50) and Liam O'Donovan for Clancy(57). Others on the panel were; James O'Brien, Pa O'Sullivan, Liam Lyons, Mark Sheehy, Barry O'Mahony, and Timmy Anglin. Selectors were; Eoin Ryan, Casey O'Donovan, Padraig Whiteand Billy O'Connor.