Éire Óg manager Harry O’Reilly was happy to take a victory of any sort as he team moved past Newcestown at Kilmurry on Sunday and into the quarter-finals of the Bons Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC.
Going into the game, the sides were level on two points each in Group B after beating Carbery Rangers and losing to Castlehaven, meaning that it was a knockout game in all but name. A draw would have been enough for Éire Óg to advance on scoring difference but ultimately Dylan Foley’s goal was key in a 1-11 to 0-11 triumph.
It sets up a quarter-final meeting with St Finbarr’s, to O’Reilly’s delight.
“The result is what it was all about!” he laughed.
“It was kind of a misty ould day and the conditions were slippy – the pitch was in great condition though, you couldn’t fault the pitch.
“It’s two local rivals going hell-for-leather at it, an awful lot of mistakes in the game, but to win it, come out on the right side, was all we wanted.
“We had ambitions of getting to the quarter-finals. We’re there now and, like I said to the lads, our season starts now.”
In a tight game like Sunday’s, the first goal was always going to be crucial.
“Vital, vital, vital,” O’Reilly said.
“I think Dylan has a goal now in every game, he’s a good man for finding the back of the net. We knew coming here that there was a chance that a goal would be the difference because it was a defensive sort of game. There were big numbers back on both sides and it wasn’t always the prettiest of stuff.”
And, even though they were reduced to 14 men following a red card for Rian O’Flynn in the 43rd minute, strong defence saw Éire Óg through.
“We worked very hard,” O’Reilly said.
“In a game like that, it’s hard to make the extra man make a difference. In nicer conditions, a sunny day, the ball is hopping – it’s an awful lot easier, it’s faster and it’s cleaner ball and everything.
“It’s hard to make it pay and we got numbers back and tried to close down the spaces. Once we didn’t concede a goal at that stage, we were probably safe enough.”
It means their upward curve continues, with the quarter-finals representing a new vista after winning the PIFC in 2019 and the 2020 SAFC earlier this year.
“It’ll be interesting, a new team for us because we haven’t played any of these teams before,” O’Reilly said.
“They’re good footballers and they have great confidence in their own ability. They expect to win these games and a lot of them have been successful underage.
“It’s going to plan at the moment but the next day’s a new day!”