That could change soon, however, as the Ovens club are just one step from ascending to premier intermediate status following Saturday’s semi-final win over Cill na Martra at Coachford.
After a slow start, Éire Óg functioned better in attack where, despite inter-county stars Daniel Goulding and Ciarán Sheehan getting on the scoresheet, it was younger forwards Kevin Hallissey and John Dineen who shone.
Dineen finished with four points, but the first two were crucial at a time when Cill na Martra’s Seán Ó Ceilleachair and Cathal Mac Suibhne were holding sway around midfield. Hallissey finished with 1-4, the goal coming after an error by Cill na Martra goalkeeper Eoin Ó Duinnín in the 42nd minute. It’s timing was crucial and swung the momentum back Éire Óg’s way after Maidhcí Ó Duinnín’s penalty had brought Cill na Martra back to within two points (0-9 to 1-4).
Éire Óg started sluggishly but their opponents failed to capitalise on their possession and were guilty a series of wides and dropping the ball short into the hands of goalkeeper Joe Kelleher.
While a pair of Máirtín Ó Conchúir points got them off the mark, Danny Ó Conaill should also have found the net, his shot flying across goal. Dineen got his side off the mark in the 18th minute and the winners clicked in superb fashion, Goulding with a lovely point from a tight angle and Hallissey with a booming score helping them to a 0-7 to 0-4 interval lead.
A Dineen free and a Sheehan point extended that advantage to five early in the second-half, but Cill na Martra gave themselves hope with the penalty, awarded when Caoimhín Ó hUidhir was fouled as he was about to tap in after he had first been denied by Kelleher and Ó Duinnín punched the rebound against the post. But that good work was undone moments later when Ó Duinnín’s intended handpass for Breandán Ó Loingsigh was intercepted by Hallissey, who fired home.
While Cill na Martra didn’t give up, Éire Óg had enough composure to keep themselves safe until the final whistle. Tempers flared at times, and both Cill na Martra’s Nollaig Ó Laoire and Alan O’Mahony of Éire Óg were sent off late on, both for second bookings after separate incidents. Éire Óg now await the winners of next weekend’s other semi-final, the Beara derby between Adrigole and Castletownbere.
Scorers for Éire Óg: K Hallissey 1-4, J Dineen 0-4 (0-3f), D Goulding 0-2 (0-1f), C Sheehan, A O’Connor 0-1 each.
Cill na Martra: M Ó Duinnín 1-1 (1-0 pen), M Ó Conchúir 0-4 (0-3f), C Ó Suilleabháin 0-2, D Óg Ó Laoire, C Ó hUidhir 0-1 each.
ÉIRE ÓG: J Kelleher; C O’Mahony, S McCarthy, R Dennehy; M O’Shea, A O’Mahony, E Lowney; L Murphy, P McDonagh; K Hallissey, D Goulding, A O’Connor; C Sheehan, D O’Herlihy, J Dineen.
Sub: B Darcy O’Sullivan for McDonagh (51).
CILL NA MARTRA: E Ó Duinnín; T Mac Suibhne, C Ó Laoire, M Ó Goillidhe; N Ó Laoire, B Ó Loingsigh, T Ó Duinnín; S Ó Ceilleachair, C Mac Suibhne; C Ó hUidhir, D Óg Ó Laoire, M Ó Conchúir; D Ó Conaill, C Ó Suilleabháin, M Ó Duinnín.
Subs: S Ó Loingsigh for T Mac Suibhne (blood, 9-22), S Ó Duinnín for C Mac Suibhne (48), S Ó Loingsigh for Ó Goillidhe (50).
Referee: Nathan Wall (Carrigaline).