Éire Óg ready to take the final step

Before John Leahy established himself as a Tipperary senior hurler and was followed by Eoin and Paul Kelly and Paul Curran, their club, Mullinahone, were associated more with football.

And so it is that the exploits of Daniel Goulding and Ciarán Sheehan have helped Éire Óg, renowned as a hurling club, to come under a dual heading. Should the Ovens side defeat Castletownbere in tomorrow’s IFC final, they will ascend to premier intermediate, a higher grade than they play at hurling, which would be a first.

“My age-group would have been the first to start playing juvenile football at A level,” Goulding explains, “and that team just kind of carried the whole way up.

“We were all just good at football, we were playing A in both and whoever was in charge just put in the effort in both codes. We had the same coaches for hurling and football and it worked up from there, we started winning more in football and it just took off.”

That underage success translated to a county junior football win in 2008. Further progress has looked likely, but Goulding points out that there have been hiccups each year.

“In 2009, we got to a quarter-final and we were up eight points against Cill na Martra,” he said.

“They beat us by a point but we were without Ciarán, who was in Australia at the time, and maybe we didn’t have that bit of experience to win it.

“Full of excuses, then the year after we played Kildorrery two weeks after the All-Ireland final. Myself and Ciarán probably didn’t set the world alight on the night, then last year we played them again and we were caught with injuries. I only played five minutes of that game, Ciarán was totally gone, we were missing another two or three as well.

“This year we’ve had a good run at it, everybody fit for the year, and there has been a good effort put in.”

A dual challenge was too much to sustain, something Goulding feels is a natural by-product of using the same pool of players for both codes.

“It is very hard, you see it with most clubs who are in a similar situation,” he said.

“Kanturk are the same, they got knocked out of the football and the hurling took off then, for us it was the opposite. It’s difficult to concentrate on both, having a break in the summer is a bit of respite but then you have two or three games thrown on top of you the minute the inter-county scene is over so that’s hard as well.

“We were fortunate that we were out of the hurling – not for the club obviously, but in the sense that we got a run at the one thing, we probably would have suffered if they were both on straightaway.”

Victory tomorrow would provide a consolation after a disappointing All-Ireland campaign with Cork. Goulding’s year was troubled with injury early on, meaning that he then found it difficult to get back in the side.

“It was a tough year. I was injured and I took a bit longer to come back than I anticipated, I had to have an operation.

“If I had to play a role coming on and we won an All-Ireland, I wouldn’t have minded. The whole year is about winning the All-Ireland and we couldn’t do that, which was the biggest disappointment.”

Donegal were Cork’s conquerors in the semi-final, but Goulding is of the opinion that the Rebels didn’t do enough to win rather than being shut down.

“They are very organised and a very good team, they deserve everything they got this year, but I felt that we made a lot of crucial mistakes when we were in the game.

“The scoreline flattered us because they shut up shop after going three or four points ahead. We should have been leading at half-time and it could have been a totally different game. We played very well in the first half but balls that had been going over all year sailed a foot or two wide of the post.”

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