CAST the mind back to mid-April and a cold wet day in Macroom, when Éire Óg came up short against the 2018 intermediate champions, Cill na Martra, in round one of the Cork Premier IFC, by four points. They were forced to travel a different, longer route.
An extra-time victory was needed against Aghada in round two. Then, they beat Newmarket by a point. They were drawn against Ballingeary in the quarter-final, coming away with eight points to spare.
With four games under their belt, they met Bantry Blues in another hard-fought encounter. There was plenty of more drama in this last-four tie, and they emerged from Clonakilty, after an epic encounter, with a place in the final.
Lots of hard graft had to be put in before Daniel Goulding accepted the biggest prize of all, yesterday.
“Looking back, now, we lost our first round and all those extra matches did count,” said Éire Óg trainer, Paudie Kissane.
“In the middle of June, we were in danger of being relegated from Division 2 in the league. We had three games we had to win.
“Something was on the line all the time. Right now, having more games did help.
“But all our games have been like today. We had to come back in extra-time against Aghada. It is a theme of all our games.
“There is a nervousness to all our championship games. We are not going to play brilliant in every game. It is about getting the right result.
“The boys stuck in and there was some great defending around our D in the second half. I’m delighted for the lads: it is their dream. Counties are hard to win.
“We have a lot of lads there wearing the red jersey at different levels, but, at the end of the day, to win championship, it is about a team. Whether we are attacking or defending, it is about the team. if you look through all our games, it is not about one player. Different fellas are doing great jobs. Overall, it is a full buy-in to the team ethos.”
From current senior, Ronan O’Toole, to former senior, Ciarán Sheehan, it is a team effort.
“Ciarán is only back a few weeks. Even the last day, in Clonakilty, against Bantry Blues, we were under the cosh a bit and he gave everyone a great lift.
“It is not about spectacular, fancy things. It is about showing for the ball and winning ball. It is great for him, too: he probably dreamt of winning a county when he left for Australia.
“There wasn’t a whole lot in the game, but our lads, they always come back, so I knew they would keep fighting to the end.
“I never doubted them,” Kissane said.