A storming second-half recovery from Na Piarsaigh brought them to within a goal in injury time and the East Cork side were relieved to see top scorer Eoghan Murphy win a close-in free before a final act of drama with Na Piarsaigh free-taker Keith Buckley hitting a 30 yards free against the upright.
Winning manager Martin Bowen conceded they were ‘lucky’ to win, commenting: “there was a strong wind out there....stronger than you’d think. It was a game of two halves and we would consider we were lucky to get out of it.”
In the final analysis what proved decisive was the goal scored by corner-forward Maurice Carroll in the 40th minute and impressive goalkeeping from Shay Bowen, whose brother Alan was one of their stars in attack.
The foundation for the Erin’s Own victory was laid early in the game, once they had begun to impose their will on the game after an opening ten minutes noteworthy for three Na Piarsaigh wides before Stephen O’Sullivan got their opening point. That came in the eighth minute, by which time Erin’s Own had four points on the board.
In general play, Erin’s Own were winning more ball around the middle of the field and more forceful in attack – where Bowen and Maurice Carroll in the corners were to play major roles, along with expert free-taking from Eoghan Murphy. The city side did promise for a while, with Ronan McGregor getting in some good work in the half-back line and Keith Buckley probing on the right flank in attack, but, in comparative terms, the return from their overall efforts was minimal.
The difference in standards was highlighted when Alan Bowen got the first goal for Erin’s Own after 18 minutes and Maurice Carroll – son of former Limerick star Mossie Carroll – followed suit with a terrific solo effort. Followed quickly by a point from Stephen Cronin it put them 10 points clear and Na Piarsaigh’s only real attempt at a goal was foiled when corner-back Cian O’Connor made a vital interception. At the break it was 2-14 to 0-6.
With a few positional switches and a much more determined approach, Na Piarsaigh were encouraged by an Ian McDonnell goal within four minutes and, after Carroll’s goal, Erin’s Own were to be restricted to four points after Carroll’s goal. And they were grateful when Shay Bowen made the first of two crucial saves at the three-quarters stage. The city side were winning much more possession all over and were boosted by the introduction of subs Padraig Guest and 16 year-old Eoin Ó hAinfin, who was to get their second goal in the 62nd minute. Keith Buckley was unerring in his free-taking and they steadily narrowed the deficit to the stage when only a goal separated the sides. After that, anything could have happened but Eoghan Murphy’s late, late free settled the issue.
E. Murphy (0-10, 5 frees, 1 65); M. Carroll (2-2); A. Bowen (1-5); S. Cronin and Kieran Murphy (0-1 each).
K. Buckley (0-7, 5 frees, 2 65’s); E. Moynihan (0-4); I. McDonnell (1-1); E. Ó hAinfin (1-0); P. Rourke (0-2); C. Buckley, D. Lee, S. O’Sullivan and P. Guest (0-1 each).
S. Bowen; C. O’Connor, C. Dooley, D. Dennehy; S. Cronin, S. Murphy (capt.), C. O’Mahony; Killian Murphy, S. Kelly; Kieran Murphy, J. Sheehan, M. Collins; M. Carroll, E. Murphy, A. Bowen.
Subs: C. O’Callaghan for O’Mahony (44); A. Power for Kelly (56); R. O’Flynn for Dennehy (58);
D. O’Connell; A. Brady (capt.), S. Curtin, A. Dennehy; R. McGregor, J. Gardiner, C. Buckley; E. Moynihan, P. Gould; K. Buckley, P. Rourke, D. Lee; S. O’Sullivan, I. McDonnell, C. O’Mahony.
Subs: P. Guest for O’Sullivan (inj. 10); E. Gunning for O’Mahony (22); D. Gunning for Dennehy (43); E. Ó hAinfin for Gould (56).
Diarmuid Kirwan (Eire Óg).