JUBILANT Éire Óg manager Harry O’Reilly praised the contribution of trainer Paudie Kissane to the club’s Bon Secours county senior A football championship final win over Mallow at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening.
The Ovens club stormed to a 2-13 to 1-7 triumph and earn a place in the premier senior championship later in the year for the first time in the club’s history.
“Paudie has been huge for us. He’s the best at what he does and there’s nobody to match him,” O’Reilly commented afterwards.
“They are great to train and they love the professionalism Paudie gives to it. They respond magnificently.
“I thought that showed in their fitness levels, their coaching and the way in which they played the game.”
It’s the fourth adult county title in football for a club that is definitely on the rise with a hurling final to come in August, too.
“It’s a huge achievement for the club. We won junior in 2008, intermediate in 2014, premier intermediate in 2019 and now senior A.
“It’s the third championship-winning team I’ve been involved with and one of the selectors Damien Lordan is the same.
“Leo Lowney and Alan O’Regan have been involved in two.”
Éire Óg’s victory was all the more praiseworthy because they lost Cork player Colm O’Callaghan to a hamstring injury just before half-time and he looks a doubt for the Munster championship game with either Waterford or Limerick next month.
They also started without Ciarán Sheehan and full-back John Mullins, who was injured in the recent league game against Nemo Rangers.
“You’d be worried about missing those big names, but I thought our composure on the ball was another big factor. We didn’t lose it because we recycled it and kept our heads.
O’Reilly was particularly delighted for the manner in which the players delivered on the most important date in the calendar.
“We knew we had that performance in us. We played like that in the two league games we had coming back and it’s hugely satisfying to be able to do it in a county final.
“We missed a lot of chances in the first half and were afraid it might come back to bite us. But, our fitness levels are huge and we drove on again in the second half.
“Mallow beat us well last year, but I think the big, open pitch suited us because we have plenty of pace in our side.”
It was that impressive speed which undid Mallow, who came under sustained pressure early on and Éire Óg never relented.
“We kept the play wide and kept running at them. That was crucial.
“It’s the way football is nowadays and pace is a serious advantage for any side. We have a lot of it.”
Éire Óg will now rub shoulders with Castlehaven, Carbery Rangers and Newcestown in the 2021 championship.
“It will be our first time ever up in the top grade in football and we’re looking forward to it even though it will be against three seasoned teams.”