In truth though, Éire Óg were always playing catch-up, although, to their credit, they never wilted and gave it their all despite being hit by a barrage of scores in the opening five minutes while playing with the strong breeze at their backs.
In those early minutes Valley Rovers, with corner-forward Brian Canty in tremendous form, threatened to finish off Éire Óg quickly as a couple of points from Canty himself and one from Jeremy Hurley put them in the mood, Michael Collins also kicking home a second minute goal.
The loss of Canty, however, who picked up an injury during the warm-up, affected Valley Rovers progress subsequently. He had been giving the Éire Óg backline a torrid time of it as a couple of frees from the excellent Tim Cronin soon got Éire Óg back into the game, trailing 1-4 to 0-2 after the opening quarter after being comprehensively outplayed.
Certainly Éire Óg had the better of the second quarter, Noel Brennan, Kieran Sheehan and another Cronin free getting them right back into the contest and Valley Rovers defenders Tadgh Burke and Michael O’Brien had to be sharp and alert. But it’s goals that win games and in the 26th minute Valley Roves were in for their second - this time Alan Quirke’s high delivery being finished to the net by Richard Fleming.
It must have felt like a hammer blow for the Ovens men but back they came again. Playing some nice hurling now just a minute later Cronin cracked a ‘21’ all the way to the net and when Pat Flynn followed with a point it was game on with Valley Rovers leading 2-6 to 1-6 at the break but with the stiff breeze at their backs for the second period.
There was going to be no surrender by Éire Óg in the second-half, Brennan scoring a quick point, and their reshuffled forward division was giving the Valley Rover defence, in which full-back Burke was mighty, a stiff test. Point for point and still just a goal separated the sides, 2-9 to 1-9, entering the final quarter.
Éire Óg were well up for this lively contest now. Cronin pointed another free to leave just two points between the sides but in the 49th minute came the final hammer blow with goal number three, substitute Ciarán Collins putting Alan Quirke in and the full-forward made no mistake.
Suddenly there was daylight between the sides. Pat Flynn then went agonisingly close to an Éire Óg goal but with Hurley and Mark Kelleher hurling well for Valley Rover there was only going to be one winner. A couple of frees from Hurley and points by Quirke and Manning from play finished off the Ovens men and Valley Rovers, who earlier lost to Cobh, now go into the draw for the next round. And deservedly so.
Scorers for Valley Rovers: M. Collins 1-2, J. Hurley 0-5 (0-4 frees), A. Quirke 1-1, R. Fleming 1-0, B. Canty, E. Manning 0-2 each, R. Butler, C. Collins.
Éire Óg: T. Cronin 1-5 (all frees), N. Brennan, P. Coakley 0-2 each, K. Sheehan, P. O’Flynn 0-1 each.
VALLEY ROVERS: W. Burke; C. O’Riordan, T. Burke, J. Hurley; S. Manning, J. Burke, M. O’Brien; J. Hurley, E. Manning; M. Kelleher, R. Fleming, R. Butler; B. Canty, A. Quirke, S.M. Collins.
Subs: C. Collins for S. M. Collins.
ÉIRE ÓG: K. Murphy; A. O’Herlihy, B. Corkery, E. Long; S. Healy, F. Sheehan, R. O’Driscoll; T. Cronin, K. Sheehan; N. Brennan, J. Crowley, A. O’Sullivan; J. Murphy, P. O’Flynn, J. Malone.
Subs: P. Corkery for O’Sullivan, D. Corkery for Murphy, T. Dineen for Long, V. Fahy for Malone.
Referee; C. McAllister (Midleton).