Harry O’Reilly bows out after a terrific run as Éire Óg boss with Paudie Kissane stepping up

Cavan native twice managed the Ovens outfit winning Intermediate, Premier Intermediate and Senior A titles
Harry O’Reilly bows out after a terrific run as Éire Óg boss with Paudie Kissane stepping up

The Éire Óg Senior A football management team that won the county: Mick Lordan, Trevor McCarthy, Damian Lordan, Harry O'Reilly, Paudie Kissane and Alan O'Regan. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Harry O’Reilly recently stepped down as Éire Óg football boss having overseen three county championship-winning seasons.

The Cavan native had two successful stints at the Ovens club, having taken charge from 2014 to 2016, winning the IFC title in 2014 and reaching two PIFC semi-finals, before returning for a second spell for the 2018 season, where he held the post until the end of last season.

Éire Óg made big strides during those years, winning the PIFC crown in 2019, and the 2020 delayed SAFC title, which wasn’t played until June 2021 due to Covid-19.

The team in red and yellow reached the 2021 premier SFC quarter-final in their first-ever season at the grade, beaten by the eventual winners St Finbarr’s.

The 2022 season was more of a struggle, not helped by injuries to key players, a narrow win against Newcestown in a tense relegation play-off kept Éire Óg up.

Former Cork player Paudie Kissane, who has had a huge impact in Éire Óg’s rise, joined O’Reilly’s coaching staff in 2019 and for the new season, Kissane will be manager and coach.

O’Reilly says it was an easy decision to step down from the post at the end of the 2022 campaign.

“I had completed eight seasons in charge, three seasons in my first stint and then five seasons in my second spell, so I just felt it was time to step aside. I enjoyed those eight seasons, a lot of happy memories, and I can look back on a really successful period for the club.”

The man from Ballyjamesduff was appointed as manager of the then-intermediate team for the 2014 season.

The team endured a difficult 2013 season, culminating in a shock 4-7 to 1-14 defeat to Rockchapel in the quarter-final of the championship, so what did the Cavan native change when he was enlisted?

“I just thought I could add something different. The first thing we did was bring the team closer together, and get the group playing as a unit.

“The team had been leaking goals in the previous campaigns, and we really tightened up the defence. There was a lot of pressure to win the county in 2014, and I felt if we could get lads on the same page, we could win the championship and thankfully we did so.”

ADJUSTED

On the back of winning the county, Éire Óg adjusted to the higher grade pretty well, in their first two seasons they reached two semi-finals.

Despite the heavy defeat to Fermoy in the 2016 semi-final, the team had a nice blend of experience and youth, but O’Reilly decided to step down at the end of the season.

“I suppose there was a bit of surprise when I stepped down, I had completed three seasons, and felt a new voice was required. It was nothing to do with the manner of how the season ended because overall it was a good season reaching another semi-final.”

 Donal Hurley, Intermediate Hurling Manager and Harry O'Reilly, Senior A Football Manager, after their county victories. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Donal Hurley, Intermediate Hurling Manager and Harry O'Reilly, Senior A Football Manager, after their county victories. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Éire Óg reached the PIFC quarter-final in 2017 but were soundly beaten by St Michael’s 2-15 to 0-8 in a replay following a draw first day out before O’Reilly was back in charge again for the 2018 season.

It was an itch that had to be scratched. I felt refreshed and that I could add something new to the setup again.

“The first season we lost to St Michael’s by four points in the semi-final, and the coach who was with me for a good few years John O’Shea stepped down.

“Paudie Kissane was his replacement. Damien Lordan, Leo Lowney, Alan O’Regan, Trevor McCarthy, Mick Lordan, and Ray O’Mahony along with Paudie being the new coach made up a strong management team.”

The Muskerry team enjoyed a very successful period, the 2019 PIFC triumph was followed by the double the following season, the SAFC and IAHC titles, but they weren’t played until 2021 due to Covid-19.

A premier SFC quarter-final appearance in 2021 was followed by a win over Newcestown in the relegation play-off last season, but O’Reilly is confident the team will have a successful 2023 season, but it won’t be easy, with Nemo Rangers, Carrigaline, and near neighbours Ballincollig in the championship group.

“I am looking forward to watching the team from the bank, I think Paudie Kissane will do a great job. He’s a brilliant coach, it’s his first manager's job, but he has the experience, that will stand to him.

“The team should be strong, having had a lot of injuries last season. I am sure the lads will do well this season.”

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