FR O’Neill’s 2-6 Aghabullogue 0-11
THE Nano Nagle Cup will rest in East Cork this winter after Fr O'Neill’s bridged a 10-year gap to be crowned SE Systems Intermediate Champions in horrific weather conditions in Castle Road.
Playing with the gale-force wind in their favour in the opening 30 minutes O’Neill’s laid the foundations for victory and In the second half they really battened down the hatches adding just a point to their tally but just how important that point was as in the finish it was the score that separated the sides.
Playing against the howling wind Cliona Healy fired Aghabullogue into an early lead. Yvonne Murphy replied before Aghabullogue stretched it with two points as Emma Flanagan and Ella Foley hit the target.
Digging deep and playing with huge determination, Fr O’Neill's drove forward. Keelagh Cullinane scored and by the end of the opening quarter, they hit the front with Yvonne Murphy’s long-range free going all the way to the net.
The weather deteriorated but both sides worked hard. The Aghabullogue defence had their hands full as O’Neill's continued to push forward with the elements in their favour.
The sides exchanged frees through Kate Harrington and Cliona Harrington but the East Cork side led by a goal on 25 minutes.
With Yvonne Murphy, Claire O’Brien and Kate Harrington to the fore, O’Neill's were on top and they grabbed a vital goal four minutes before the interval as O'Brien finished Yvonne Murphy’s long-range free to the net.
They were turning into the wind in the second half but had a two-goal advantage: 2-5 to 0-5.
The second half was all about grinding out a result. The rain came teeming down but the intensity of the contest increased too.
O'Neill's dropped Clodagh Finn back as they set about containing the Aghabullogue attack. Meadhbh Ring pointed to cut the deficit five minutes into the half but Keelagh Cullinane replied for O'Neill's.
From then on it was about protecting their lead, as Aghabullogue pushed forward. Cliona Healy converted a free and it took a superb save from keeper Nicola Nagle to deny Emma Flanagan, as Nagle got her hurley to the ball and deflected it over the bar at a crucial time in the contest.
Flanagan caused problems for the Fr O'Neill's rearguard and at the second water break, it was 2-6 to 0-9.
Aghabullogue were far from out of it. Ciara McCarthy and Healy scored as the O'Neill's tried to batten down the hatches, excellently marshalled well by captain Ciara McGrath, Aoife Higgins, Rachel Steele and goalkeeper Nicola Nagle.
With eight minutes on the stopwatch left Healy split the posts to leaved just a point between the sides. The finale was frantic as Aghabullogue battled furiously for an equaliser and Fr O'Neill's brought all bar two players behind the ball as they dug deep to protect their lead.
They survived, with The Echo Player of The Match Yvonne Murphy in the thick of the action as they worked the ball to safety to the sound of the full-time whistle.