Éire Óg got dual balance right this season to reach hurling and football finals

Éire Óg got dual balance right this season to reach hurling and football finals

Éire Óg's Joe Cooper shoots from Meelin's TJ Brosnan during the Co-Op Superstores Cork IAIHC at Mallow. The club is chasing two trophies. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THEY’RE growing fond of county finals out Ovens direction.

Éire Óg are the last ones standing in search of a double as they chase senior A football and intermediate hurling glory.

The community should be all agog about meeting Mallow in the football decider on Sunday, but that’s shelved until next month at the earliest.

They’ve also got happy memories from last season, when winning the premier intermediate football title, to sustain them.

Then, it would be the challenge presented by Aghabullogue in the intermediate hurling final.

Former Cork football star Paudie Kissane is credited with overseeing a regime that has impressed many. “He has done a massive job with the lads’ fitness levels and we’ve been relatively injury-free, too,” said football manager Harry Reilly.

“Ciarán Sheehan was the only fellow missing last weekend against O’Donovan Rossa. And when you consider 12 start on both teams it’s amazing they’ve not picked up more niggles along the way.

“Paudie is so professional and trains us like an inter-county team, expecting the highest standards accordingly.

“The big thing is that Paudie knows where he’s at and he also looks after the hurlers’ fitness.

“Everything is done to a tee and it’s done Paudie’s way. He’s also the football coach and is meticulous in that, too.

“Everyone knows their job and what’s planned is clear and well-thought-out which helps players buy in. Paudie’s the boss. Simple as.”

It’s not a one-man show by any stretch, though, and it could never be.

“Damien Lordan is excellent on the line, always taking notes and never missing a thing. Alan O’Regan from Castletownbere and Leo Lowney make a huge contribution on match-day, too.

“And Ray O’Mahony from Kilmacud Crokes is the goalkeeping coach and he’s done a lot of work with Chris Kelly, who is playing out his skin at the moment.”

 Brian Hurley, Éire Óg, shoots from Michael Casey and Michael Herlihy, Kiskeam. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Brian Hurley, Éire Óg, shoots from Michael Casey and Michael Herlihy, Kiskeam. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The final against Mallow will be a repeat of their middle group game, when Éire Óg slumped to a double-score defeat, 0-14 to 0-7.

“We won by six points against Bantry Blues, but didn’t play that well and against Mallow we simply just didn’t turn up.

“I thought we gave the ball away very cheaply and any time we crossed the half-way line we simply gave it back to them.

“We couldn’t put our finger on what actually went wrong for us though some of the players said they were a bit tired after two hurling games the previous weeks.

“Looking back on it now it was just one of those bad days at the office.

“Yet, there wasn’t a lot needed to be done because we had been playing well.

“At the start of the year we were still on a bit of a high after winning the premier intermediate county and played very well in a couple of league games.

“Then, during lockdown the lads trained on their own and did everything that was asked of them.

“And when we were allowed back playing again we played two challenge matches against St Finbarr’s and Newcestown and were very impressive.”

It left Éire Óg needing to overcome Kiskeam in their final group game to qualify.

“We just went back to basics, knowing we also had to win by three points.

“It’s hard enough to win those games without having to win by a certain score, but we took a lot of confidence from the game.

Reilly was anticipating a one or two score game against St Michael’s in the quarter-finals, but Éire Óg ran amok.

Then, a week ago they headed into the heart of West Cork to face a fancied Skibbereen in the semi-final, a huge ask.

“They had the history and pedigree. We were up against it, too, playing into a very strong wind in the second-half and falling a point down.

“But, we controlled matters after that, held the ball very well, worked it through the lines and didn’t panic. That was a huge win for us.

“Despite our obvious improvement, Mallow will still be favourites, but we’re there and that’s what matters for the moment,” Reilly concluded.

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