There have been plenty of tight squeezes for Erin’s Own en route to a first Cork SHC final appearance in nine years, chief among them being their smash and grab victory over Imokilly in the fourth round — Cathal O’Mahony somehow managed to direct the sliotar through a crowded goalmouth four minutes into second-half stoppage-time to secure a precious 2-21 to 2-20 win.
A late goal was also required to see off Cork IT first time out, Cian O’Callaghan rattling the students’ net on 59 minutes. O’Callaghan was at it again in the 2-13 to 1-15 semi-final triumph over Midleton, his late goal proving the difference.
Erin’s Own manager Bowen skips over these close shaves and instead points to their second round outing against St Finbarr’s. An Eoghan Murphy penalty at the death forced extra-time, with the sides still deadlocked 20 minutes later.
“I know people might think that is a strange choice given all the other games, but we were very unsettled going into that game,” revealed Bowen.
“We had a lot of injuries that we didn’t publicise so we were short four players. We knew it wasn’t a do or die match, but we were emphasising to the lads all the time that we did not want to lose it. With three minutes to go, we were three points down. The boys came back, pulled it out of the fire and got a draw. That was a big turning point for us. A lot of belief came into the lads after that game.
“We went out the second day and fair enough, we had a lot of changes, but they built on that in the replay and then against Imokilly, the Rockies (Blackrock) and Midleton.”
He added: “People have been saying that we are a surprise packet this year, but if you look at the form, we played Sars in the semi-final last year and they had been the standard-bearers of the last seven or eight years. We were a point up in injury time and they got a point to draw level.
“In the replay, we got beaten by 10 points. But if you look at the game closely, there were three points in it when Robbie O’Flynn went through and had a shot. It hit their ‘keeper Alan Kennedy in the helmet, came back out and Sars went down and got a goal. From potentially being a draw match, there was now six points in it and the game was gone from us.”
The 2015 campaign was Bowen’s first as manager since stepping out following the 2006 county championship winning campaign.
PJ Murphy, father of present players Eoghan and Kieran, oversaw the successful defence of their title in 2007.
Bowen, though, has no regrets over parking club loyalties to join Gerald McCarthy’s Cork backroom team.
Why, then, return to the club scene after nine years away?
“I was involved with the club juveniles for a few years and when PJ Murphy’s latest term finished two years ago, I debated whether I’d come back or not. I felt if I didn’t, the opportunity might not come around again as I’m not getting any younger.
“This was going to be my last throw of the dice so I said I’d give it a go and it was probably the best decision I made. I felt we had a lot of younger players coming through and they had something to offer. I felt we had potential. It has worked out well.
“I’m delighted I came back down from the stand. We are a rural club that is not used to winning County SHC titles. It is an honour to participate in one, but it is a much greater honour to win one.”