Courcey Rovers 2-22 Aghada 0-13
COURCEY Rovers are through to the PIHC quarter-finals against Watergrasshill after a stunning display at Páirc Uí Rinn on Friday night.
A brilliant showing display by corner-forward Richard Sweetnam - he scored 1-9 of his side’s total - was enough to see Rovers finish Group A in second place despite beginning the night bottom.
Having lost both their opening games of the campaign, Courceys were left needing a significant victory here and favourable result in the night’s other match to have any hope of progressing to the knockout stages.
While Aghada were also beaten by Carrigaline, their 1-19 to 2-11 triumph against Youghal almost four weeks previously meant that a win would all but seal their place in the quarter-finals.
Both sides opened their account for the evening inside the opening minute and it came from their respective number 12s as Cian Fleming ran through the middle and tapped over for Courcey before his rival Tadgh O’Sullivan did likewise for Aghada.
After a period where they virtually went score for score, Rovers soon grabbed a hold of proceedings and led by the impressive Sweetnam they rallied to raise three white flags in succession.
Courceys would lead by that three-point margin at the first water break - 0-8 to 0-5 - but they could rightly feel that they ought to have been further ahead as they hit five wides in that first quarter compared to their opponents’ zero.
They would find their range in the second quarter as they scored some incredible points with the pick of the bunch coming from Sweetnam while midfielder Jerry O’Neill also claimed a beauty from distance.
Aghada remained in the hunt heading towards the half time break largely thanks to the superb free taking ability of William Leahy but a run of seven minutes without a score - Rovers scored five on the bounce in that period - ensured they trailed 0-15 to 0-8 going into the all-important second half.
But any hope they had of mounting a dramatic comeback were all but ended in the 35th minute as Courceys snatched the opening goal of the game.
And it came in fortuitous circumstances as the Aghada goalkeeper fumbled a long ball into the path of Sweetnam, and the deadly number 13 graciously scooped the loose sliotar into the net from close range, 1-17 to 0-9.
Leahy struck some neat overs for Aghada but it wasn’t to be their night and led by Sweetnam and a late goal from Aidan O’Donovan, Rovers continued to outscore their rivals to claim a remarkable 15 point win to progress to the quarters against all odds.
Scorers for Courcey Rovers: R Sweetnam 1-9 (0-6 f, 0-1 65), A O’Donovan 1-2, T O’Sullivan 0-4, O Crowley, B Ryan, R Nyhan 0-2 each, J O’Neill 0-1.
Aghada: W Leahy 0-8 (0-7 f), J Looney 0-2, C Fleming, T Hartnett, A Berry 0-1 each.
AGHADA: C O’Shea; D Rice, E Leahy, J O’Donoghue; T Hartnett, M Russell, A Stafford; M McCarthy, J McDonnell; J Looney, W Leahy, C Fleming; C Terry, P O’Neill, D Creedon.
Subs: A Berry for E Leahy (ht), J O’Hanlon for P O’Neill (ht), K O’Hanlon for D Creedon (35).
COURCEY ROVERS: S Nyhan; K Collins, B Mulcahy, C Daly; M Collins, F Lordan, B Collins; J O’Neill, DJ Twomey; B Ryan, R Nyhan, T O’Sullivan; R Sweetnam, O Crowley, A O’Donovan.
Subs: D Duggan for C Daly (60), M O’Donovan for R Nyhan (62).
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Éire Óg).