ÉIRE Óg booked their place in the Cork PIFC county final but only after a memorable encounter with Bantry Blues last Saturday in Clonakilty.
The two sides served up a pulsating contest in which Éire Óg built an early lead only to be held scoreless for over 20 minutes by their opponents. Bantry fought back with Kevin Casey goals either side of the interval pushing the west Cork side in front.
Éire Óg were forced to dig deep and a Kevin Hallissey goal kick-started a comeback that saw the Ovens club emerge two-point winners after a breathless encounter.
“It was a crazy game from start to finish,” commented former Cork and current Éire Óg star Daniel Goulding to The Echo. “We started like a house on fire but credit to Bantry, they responded even better. To be losing going in at half-time after scoring 1-8 so early on was very hard to take. Look, we settled ourselves down after that and the second half was tit-for-tat the whole way through.
“We have been on the receiving end of these types of games in the past so it is great to come out with a win.”
Goulding’s sentiments were echoed by Éire Óg manager Harry O’Reilly who paid tribute to Paudie Kissane’s involvement in helping the Muskerry club reach a county decider.
“We started really well, were eight or nine points up, playing the way we wanted play and sticking to our game plan,” O’Reilly stated.
“Maybe it was over-confidence. I don’t know but we completely deviated from the gameplan. That gave Bantry a foothold and they got a couple of scores including a great goal which gave them heart.
“Early in the second half, we looked dead and buried. We are very fit this year, though, thanks to Paudie Kissane, something that has caught up with us in other years. We knew we would come strong in the last 15 minutes, we have a strong squad and that told in the end.”
The contrast in the Bantry Blues’ dressing room could not have been starker. Tony O’Shea emerged to give an honest appraisal of his team’s efforts but also took time to pay tribute to their opponents.
“I suppose we never really kicked on after we got that third goal,” commented the Bantry Blues manager. “We were in control but never kicked on. In fairness, that is a very strong Éire Óg team and their bench is strong too when they are able to spring players of the calibre of Ciarán Sheehan.
“We knew we would get a big performance out of our lads. We had our chance and we didn’t take it.”