AGHADA are the Rebel Óg Fe 14 Premier 2 Hurling League champions as they defeated a spirited Youghal side 3-8 to 4-4 in an extra-ordinary play-off final at Dungourney on Sunday morning.
A nerveless free from James Hurley deep into injury time proved to be the difference between the two sides and was enough to see Aghada claim the silverware by the smallest of margins against their East Cork rivals, who almost mounted a dramatic late comeback.
The green and whites started the game on the front and by the 14th minute, they were ahead three points to no score thanks to James Hurley (free), Samuel O’Driscoll, and the impressive right half-forward Tomás Condon.
They ought to have been further ahead but they also hit five of their total 15 wides during that period, and Youghal reduced the deficit as they raised their first white flag shortly before the first water break with a free from Fionn Hill.
They would only add one more point before the half time break and that again came from a dead-ball situation but on this occasion, it was Dylan Lyons who took the responsibility.
Aghada grabbed a brace over overs before the interval through Condon and Issac Oosthuizen to ensure they were led 0-5 to 0-2 at the midway point in the final.
That lead was quickly cancelled out at the beginning of the second period though as full-forward Brian Lynch got the first goal of the game when he batted Hill’s long free past the keeper.
But Aghada responded incredibly well to that setback as they scored three quick goals on the bounce to give them a commanding advantage by the 40th minute.
Samuel O’Driscoll blasted the sliotar past the keeper from close range, Callum Roberts did likewise moments later before Sean O’Callaghan also found the net after a powerful run.
Youghal hit back with a goal from Jamie Lenane to give them hope by the next water break with the scoreboard reading 3-6 to 2-4 at that juncture.
Condon added a crucial point for Aghada to give them a six-point lead but amazingly Youghal whipped that out with two more superb goals from Lenane and Lynch in injury time.
But there was still time for one more twist and James Hurley provided it, splitting the uprights with a free in the fifth minute of additional time to win the cup for Aghada.
Scorers for Aghada: S O’Driscoll 1-1, S O’Callaghan and C Roberts 1-0 each, T Condon 0-3, J Hurley 0-3 (0-3 frees), I Oosthuizen 0-1.
Youghal: J Lenane and B Lynch 2-0 each, F Hill 0-2 (0-1 frees), D Lyons 0-2 (0-2 frees).
AGHADA: J O’Donnell; J Buckley, H Mulcahy, S S O’Sullivan; E Crowley, R Devoy, R Dean; J Hurley, D Wallace; T Condon, S O’Callaghan, C Roberts; I Oosthuizen, J Motherway, S O’Driscoll.
Subs: C O’Donoghue for I Oosthuizen (46), J Devoy for J Buckley (58).
YOUGHAL: E McCarthy; L Durkin, O Walsh, G Geary; N Hegarty, M Desmond, J Dineen; S O’Brien, F Hill; J Lenane, F O’Riordan, J Coyne; D Lyons, B Lynch, L Lenane.
Subs: P Nicholson for L Lenane (ht).
Referee: James Hennessy.