Éire Óg 2-16 Bantry Blues 3-11
EIGHT Daniel Goulding points helped Éire Óg edge Bantry Blues following a pulsating Cork PIFC semi-final in Ahamilla, Clonakilty last Saturday afternoon.
The Ovens club were pushed all the way by a Bantry team that held their opponents scoreless for over 20 minutes before finding another gear in the closing quarter and earning a two-point victory. A huge crowd was entertained from the opening minute to the last in a semi-final tie that remained in the balance until the closing stages.
Éire Óg overcame the loss of Colm O’Callaghan to a pre-match injury and built a 0-6 to 0-1 first-quarter lead. Aided by a strong wind, three Goulding frees plus additional Kevin Hallissey, Liam Sheehan and Ronan O’Toole points put the Muskerry club firmly in the driving seat.
Bantry couldn’t get going and had only a Shane McSweeney point to show for their early efforts. Things got even worse for the Blues when Jack Murphy landed a point prior to Brian Murphy and Daniel Goulding capitalising on a poor Bantry kick-out.
The aforementioned duo combined to release Brian Murphy for a goal that made it 1-7 to 0-2 after 18 minutes.
In truth, Bantry looked dead and buried at that juncture. The Blues supporters got behind their team and helped kick-start an unexpectedly dominant period. James Casey split the posts before Shane Murray rattled the Éire Óg net courtesy of a shot that went in off the crossbar.
Led by Ruairí Deane and a back division with an average age of 21, the west Cork side tore into their opponents as Shane O’Neill, Shane McSweeney and Stephen Coughlan found their range to leave two points between the sides.
Then, on the stroke of half time, a sweeping move ended with Kevin Casey finding the net to send Bantry in 2-6 to 1-8 ahead following an amazing and unexpected turnaround.
Bantry’s Eoghan O’Shea was black-carded shortly after the restart but their opponents continued to struggle in front of a goal and the Blues capitalised. Another flowing move saw Kevin Casey net his second goal of the afternoon before a Stephen Coughlan free extended Bantry’s advantage to five points.
Daniel Goulding converted a free, his side’s first score in over 20 minutes, ahead of a scrappy period in which the former Cork inter-county star kept his side in touch with three additional frees.
Deane and Stephen Coughlan frees maintained Bantry’s lead until the arrival of another former inter-county player, Ciarán Sheehan, boosted Éire Óg.
The Muskerry side managed to turn over possession deep in their own territory and began a move that would deliver the semi-final’s most crucial score.
Bantry were aggrieved as they believed Ruairí Deane was fouled in the build-up but play was waved on as Kevin Hallissey scorched a superb strike into the bottom corner.
Now 3-9 to 2-12, with 10 minutes to go, it was anyone’s game now. Buoyed by that terrific goal, Éire Óg added further points from Eoin Ó Sé and Jack Murphy to move back in front.
Kevin Casey replied with a point for a Bantry team struggling to contain their rejuvenated opponents as Goulding and John Cooper split the posts to make it 2-16 to 3-10.
Stephen Coughlan punched an effort over the bar five minutes into injury-time but Éire Óg held on to book their place in the PIFC decider.
Scorers for Éire Óg: D Goulding 0-8 (0-5 f), K Hallissey 1-1, B Murphy 1-0, J Murphy 0-2, L Sheehan (f), R O’Toole, D Dineen, E Ó Sé and J Cooper 0-1 each.
Scorers for Bantry Blues: K Casey 2-1, S Coughlan 0-4 (0-3 f), S Murray 1-0, R Deane (0-1 f), S McSweeney 0-2 each, J Casey and S O’Neill 0-1 each.
ÉIRE ÓG: E Kelleher; K Kelleher, J Mullins, D O’Herlihy; D Dineen, J Cooper, D McCarthy; L Sheehan, R O’Toole; E Ó Sé, D Murphy, J Murphy; D Goulding (c), K Hallissey, B Hurley.
Subs: J Cooper for D Murphy (40), M O’Shea for D Dineen (40), C Sheehan for L Sheehan (48), D Hurley for R O’Toole (56).
BANTRY BLUES: D Casey (c); E O’Shea, J O’Leary, R O’Mahony; K Coakley, B Foley, E Minihane; S O’Leary, R Deane; S O’Neill, J Casey, K Casey; S Coughlan, S McSweeney, S Murray.
Subs: C O’Leary for E O’Shea (33, black card), J Downey for J O’Leary (39, blood), D Daly for S Murray (47).
Referee: C Dineen (Douglas).