Éire Óg 0-14 St Michael's 0-12
ÉIRE Óg lifted the Premier Intermediate Football Championship title by edging out St Michael's in a gritty decider at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday afternoon.
The Ovens outfit were that bit more clinical than Michael's, who suffered final heartbreak for the third time in four seasons and fourth time since 2012.
For Éire Óg this is a golden era, having secured junior, intermediate and now premier titles in the modern era, along with a Premier 1 minor football crown in 2017. Their U21s have a county semi-final against Ballincollig on the horizon and are fancied for that championship as well.
There was a real blend of young guns like Jack Murphy, John Cooper, Brian Hurley and Colm O'Callaghan in their line-up, linking up with Daniel Goulding and Ciarán Sheehan, back from a stint in Australia, and Corks senior Ronan O'Toole.
It was anyone's game in the closing stages, before Éire Óg clipped over the killer scores. They made the brighter start to proceedings and they opened the scoring inside the first minute when Goulding split the posts.
St Michael's was looking to put recent disappointment in this competition behind them and perhaps that was a factor in their nervous opening spell.
In the opening exchanges as Domhnall Cremin sliced a seemingly straight forward free well wide of the posts before midfielder Shane O’Keefe drilled his shot past the bottom left corner when bearing down on goal.
They finally opened their account with four minutes on the clock when Liam O’Sullivan struck with an excellent effort but they never took control of proceedings.
The Ovens club were determined to make the most of this opportunity – their first time featuring in this showpiece occasion – having fallen at the semi-final hurdle in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
They quickly restored their advantage when Goulding converted another free and he repeated the trick moments later to ensure they were in front 0-3 to 0-1 by the ninth minute.
Michael's hit back with an over from centre forward Tadhg Deasy but their championship rivals soon threatened to pull away from them as they scored three points without reply.
Jack Murphy notched Éire Óg’s first score from open play and both Diarmuid Dineen and Brian Hurley followed suit to make the scoreboard read 0-6 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter of the contest.
Deasy reduced the gap when he slotted the ball over the black spot with a well-taken set-piece of his own and his fellow half-forward Keith Hegarty added his name to the scoresheet to put the Blackrock side within two points of the leaders.
Daniel Goulding hit Éire Óg’s only wide of the first period but he would raise a couple of white flags from a 45 and a free to ensure they would take a lead into the half time break.
That gap was just a point as a long-range strike from Tom Lenihan and a brace of fine scores from left half-back Billy Cain and right corner-forward Eric Hegarty kept the Saints firmly in the tie at the break, 0-8 to 0-7.
The Red and Yellows took their tally to double figures at the beginning of the second period as Goulding grabbed his first point from open play shortly after a superb solo effort from Colm O’Callaghan, who was the only change to the official line up in the programme.
But Michael's came on strong after those setbacks and they were inspired by Tadhg Deasy, who scored a brilliant point from long distance. Hegarty added another score from a free and by the 41st minute they were level for the first time since the fourth minute thanks to Liam O’Sullivan.
The momentum of this enthralling final continued to swing from end to end as Éire Óg regained the initiative with another great point from O’Callaghan but that was cancelled out by O’Sullivan – his last kick of the match - with eight minutes remaining.
The final was on a knife-edge and the destination of the trophy could still have gone either way.
But in the end, it was Eire Og who would emerge victorious as a Cooper point, sandwiched between overs from Goulding, sealed their win despite a late Michael's siege.
Scorers for St Michaels: T Deasy 0-3 (0-1 f), L O’Sullivan 0-3, E Hegarty 0-2 (0-1 f), K Hegarty, B Cain, T Lenihan 0-1 each, D Cremin 0-1 f.
Éire Óg: D Goulding 0-8 (0-5 f, 0-1 45), C O’Callaghan 0-2, D Dineen, J Cooper, J Murphy, B Hurley 0-1 each.
ST MICHAEL'S: M Burke; D Cormack, R Dineen, O O’Sullivan; T Lenihan, A O’Callaghan, B Cain; D Meaney, S O’Keeffe; D Lenihan, T Deasy, K Hegarty; E Hegarty, D Cremin, L O’Sullivan.
Subs: E Sheehan for D Lenihan (h-t), A Hennessy for K Hegarty (46), E Buckley for L O’Sullivan (52), E Hickey for E Hegarty (58).
ÉIRE ÓG: E Kelleher; J Kelleher, J Mullins, D O’Herlihy; D Dineen, J Cooper, D McCarthy; L Sheehan, R O’Toole; E O’Shea, J Murphy, K Hallissey; D Goulding, C O’Callaghan, B Hurley.
Subs: C Sheehan for K Hallissey (44), M O’Shea for D Dineen (48), J Cooper for E O’Shea (54), D Murphy for B Hurley (58).
Referee: Alan Long (Argideen Rangers).