DANIEL Goulding played a key role in what have been some memorable recent years for Éire Óg.
For the Ovens-based club, this has been quite a fruitful period in their history.
They were Mid Cork and Cork junior champions in 2008, Cork intermediate winners in 2014, and now in 2019 they have added the Cork premier intermediate crown to that list.
Goulding scored a total of 0-8 points in the recent PIFC decider against St Michael’s, and has been a big leader on this Éire Óg journey.
Many people will associate Goulding with his exploits for the Cork footballers, including winning the 2010 All-Ireland at Croke Park.
But from speaking to him in the Auld Triangle, where he was presented with the Muskerry GAA/Auld Triangle Sports Star award for the month of October, it is clear how much putting on the Éire Óg jersey and having success with his club means to Goulding.
“When I started playing junior at around 16- or 17-years-old, we hadn’t won a game in God knows how long,” he told The Echo.
“So to go from there to being up to senior football and winning three counties in 11 years, it is a huge achievement for everyone in the club, really.
“When you step back and look at it, to win three counties in 10 years with a group of players is a very humbling thing to be a part of, and a great experience.
“When I started off playing with Éire Óg, it was a dream to win a county. We won the junior, then it was a dream to win the intermediate. It is a really special feeling to know you’ve jumped the three grades and into senior football.
“To do it with your close friends and fellas you have trained with all of your life, it is really special.”
Reflecting on the year as a whole for Éire Óg, Goulding feels that the hard work which was put in by everyone at the club has paid off.
“At the start of the year, we lost to Cill Na Martra. If you told us after that game that we would be after winning the premier intermediate we probably wouldn’t have believed it.
“But it came down to hard work really, and fellas knuckling down, all the team and the management pulling together.
“There was a huge effort put in from the weeks after the Cill Na Martra game. All of the hard work really paid off.”
The future for Éire Óg also looks to be in safe hands, with the club winning a Premier 1 Minor Football title in 2017, while players such as Jack Murphy and Colm O’Callaghan were part of the Cork All-Ireland U20 winning team, while Hugh Murphy was a Cork minor star this summer.
It is another example of the good work which has been going on at the club at grassroots over recent years.
“If you look this year, our team was backboned by that minor team,” Goulding outlines.
“They were probably the driving force behind winning this county. They are just a bundle of energy and are all great athletes with great enthusiasm.”
On the state of Cork football generally, Goulding is upbeat.
“It looks to have turned a corner,” he said. “The big thing first of all was, in fairness to everyone involved, accepted there was an issue there.
“Once everyone realised the issue was there, putting in measures to fix it started. The success has happened quickly, which is great.
“The U20s and minors were two brilliant teams. They played brilliant football and were playing very athletic, attacking football.
“Overall that gives you great encouragement for fellas that want to play football in Cork at underage level.
“I suppose the big thing now is to get into the senior championship this year and get promoted from Division 3.
“The players are definitely there. I think the management have a good grasp of their panel and I would be very hopeful for Cork football going forward, that we can get back up to the heights we were at about 10 years ago.”
Next up for Éire Óg is a voyage into the provincial landscape. They will take on Templenoe of Kerry in the Munster PIFC semi-final.
“We had our three or four days of celebrating, but we got the heads back down then on the Friday night, back thinking about Munster already,” said Goulding.
“So we know there is a big opportunity there to have a cut off one of the best club teams in the country at intermediate level in Templenoe.
“Then there is the new format for next year and three games at senior level. It is very exciting and it will give fellas extra motivation to get back training again.”