A goal from Dylan Foley eight minutes into the second half was the key score as Éire Óg came out on top in this winner-take-all Bons Secours Hospital Cork PSFC Group B clash at Kilmurry on Sunday afternoon.
With the Ovens club – who won the 2020 senior A title in June – having led by 0-6 to 0-5 at half-time after a nip-and-tuck first half, they had moved 0-8 to 0-6 ahead early in the second half when impressive wing-back Daire McCarthy won a kick-out and sent a ball towards Kevin Hallissey. While the attacker’s point attempt dropped short, Foley was there to impede goalkeeper Cathal Clarke’s efforts to claim the ball and, as it came loose, he poked home from close range.
A fisted point from Ronan O’Toole in the immediate aftermath of the goal opened up a six-point advantage and, though Éire Óg would have to play the last 17 minutes of normal time with 14 men after second booking for Rian O’Flynn, they ensured that no goalscoring chances were allowed to their opponents. Their prize is now a quarter-final joust with St Finbarr’s.
Prior to this, each team had lost to Castlehaven and beaten Carbery Rangers so it was to all intents and purposes a knockout game, though Éire Óg had the cushion of knowing they would advance in the even of a draw. Such an outcome didn’t seem remote in the opening half, with the teams matching each other in what was an attritional and absorbing contest without offering too much in the way of open and expansive football.
Éire Óg did forge an early 0-3 to 0-1 advantage after a driving run from corner-back Dermot O’Herlihy was the catalyst for captain Daniel Goulding’s second point but Newcestown came back well and three Richard O’Sullivan points had them level at 0-4 each by the water break, with Joe Cooper a stand-out in the Éire Óg attack.
Séamus O’Sullivan made it 0-5 to 0-4 for Newcestown in the 20th minute, but it was the only time they led apart from the game’s opening score. Colm O’Callaghan’s run and point levelled for Éire Óg and Goulding gave them the interval lead with a free after the influential Hallissey had been fouled.
Two more Goulding frees sandwiched a good point by Newcestown’s Tadgh Twomey on the resumption, but a goal was always likely to have a major effect in such a game and Foley’s intervention was a boon to Éire Óg’s hopes.
A constant undercurrent of niggle – there were two first-half black cards, one for each team – gave way to a growing number of flashpoints in the wake of the goal and O’Flynn’s two cautions in quick succession left Éire Óg with the numerical disparity. Newcestown did respond with three consecutive points – Twomey with two and sub Darragh Curran also on target – to leave it 1-9 to 0-9 at the water break but Éire Óg never appeared rattled.
In the final quarter, poor shooting was costly for Newcestown, allowing O’Callaghan and Joe Cooper to move Éire Óg five points in front again. While Richard O’Sullivan and the ever-industrious Gearóid O’Donovan did bring Newcestown back to within a goal as injury time dawned, they still needed two scores to turn things their way.
Unfortunately for them, it was not a situation that could be brought to bear and Éire Óg continue to ride their wave of momentum.