County Senior Football Championship
Aherlow 2-12 Carrick Swans 0-9
Champions Aherlow overcame the game challenge of Carrick Swans in this opening round of the County Senior Football Championship played at sun-drenched Cahir on Saturday evening.
Aherlow were odds-on favourites to advance to the next round, and although scoring 1-6 in each half they only pulled away over the final 15 minutes of a game that was watched by a very disappointing crowd. Carrick Swans, who had Stephen Hahessy as their main scorer with seven of their nine points, showed plenty of fighting spirit but eventually ran out of steam.
In a lively opening half Aherlow opened up a two-point lead early on, both scores coming from the boot of Thomas Hanley after good approach play. Swans were on the scoreboard after 3 minutes when Stephen Hahessy scored from a well-placed pass from Alan Rockett. With Swans moving the ball quickly they levelled through Paul Diffly and went ahead for the only time after 5 minutes when Hahessy supplied the finish to another Rockett pass.
There were 12 minutes gone when Aherlow, who were struggling to find their men with misplaced passes, went back in front with two Barry Grogan set-pieces. Swans were back on level terms after 17 minutes with another Stephen Hahessy free. But Aherlow then struck a purple patch when Seamus Grogan outjumped his marker with his next touch and sent the ball between the posts.
That was followed by a further point from Bernard O’Brien before the best move of the evening ended with the opening goal after 23 minutes. It started in front of the Aherlow goal when full-back Ciaran McDonald linked up with Barry Grogan, and with quick inter-passing up along the left flank involving Cathal Dillon and Derry Peters, Grogan released the over-lapping Ciaran McDonald, who cut in along the end-line before firing home from an very acute angle to put his team 1-6 to 0-4 in front.
However Swans didn’t press the panic button, adding three points before the break with frees from Alan Rockett and Stephen Hahessy before Hahessy brought his tally to five points, adding the final score of the half with a well-struck point from out on the sideline to leave it 1-6 to 0-7 in favour of Aherlow.
As the second half got underway Stephen Hahessy, with another free, brought the margin back to a single point, but it proved to be the South Tipp’s side only score of the half until Hahessy converted another free after 35 minutes. Sandwiched in between those scores were two points for Aherlow from Barry Grogan, who should have found the back of the net when he was one-on-one with Jamie Sweetman, but went for power rather than picking his spot. That was followed by a long-range point from the boot of Ciaran McDonald.
With Aherlow getting the upper hand they put this game to bed with a Barry Grogan free, followed by a Thomas Fahey goal. Fahey, with a great catch from a Thomas Hanley ball dropped into the danger zone, cut in from the end line before firing low past Swans goalkeeper Jamie Sweetman to put them 2-10 to 0-9 clear after 46 minutes.
That goal proved to be the killer blow, as Aherlow stamped their authority on proceedings by adding three unanswered points, including a brace from Thomas Hanley and one from Thomas Fahey in the dying minutes.
Aherlow: G. Peters, M. Hanley, Ciaran McDonald (1-1), S. Mullins, L. Coskeran, M. O’Brien, Chris McDonald, C. Dillon, J. Hennessy, D. Peters, S. Grogan (0-2; 1 free), T. Hanley (0-4), T. Fahey (1-1), B. Grogan (0-4; 3 frees), B. O’Brien (0-1). Subs: S. Hennessy for Mullins, C. Peters for S. Grogan, F. Leonard for D. Peters.
Carrick Swans: J. Sweetman, D. Murphy, A. O’Donnell, B. Grace, G. Walsh, A. O’Sullivan, J. Walsh, A. Rockett (0-1 free), B. Walsh, K. Reid, S. Hahessy (0-7; 4 frees), K. Walsh, P. Diffly (0-1), D. O’Hanlon, B. Murphy. Sub: L. Grace for O’Hanlon.
Referee: Derek O’Mahoney.