THIS repeat of the 2019 Premier IFC final proved to be one-sided at Ballyanly yesterday as Éire Óg cruised into the semi-finals of the Bons Secours Hospital Cork SAFC.
Last October, the Ovens side prevailed by 0-14 to 0-12 against St Michael’s but here they had 17 points to spare as a 1-5 to 0-2 half-time lead was built upon in impressive fashion.
They now meet O’Donovan Rossa in the last four and, while 12 wides – eight in the first half – may not be allowed a luxury on that occasion, manager Harry O’Reilly was nevertheless pleased with a job well done.
“We didn’t expect to win by 17 points, there’s never anything in it between us and Michael’s,” he said.
“We probably had everyone available to us and they had a few injuries, which put them on the back foot a little bit.
“We missed an awful lot of chances in the first half, but we started converting them in the second half. They’re good footballers and it was always going to come.
“This pitch has a bit of a hill [towards rugby club] and it’s the harder one to score into. I said at half-time that we were playing into the scoring goal and thankfully it turned out that way.”
The opening stages were even, though Éire Óg’s loose shooting was their biggest weakness was they failed to build on the dominance of Ronan O’Toole and Jack Murphy around the middle. Tadgh Deasy of Michael’s made it 0-2 each on 12 minutes and they might have even gone ahead after that, with Mark O’Keeffe denied by a good save from Chris Kelly, who similarly stopped an Eric Hegarty soon after that.
In between, Éire Óg harnessed some momentum as Colm O’Callaghan and captain Daniel Goulding helped to establish a three-point lead and they doubled that on 27 as Brian Hurley’s pass allowed O’Callaghan to charge through. His first shot was blocked well by Michael’s defender Owen O’Sullivan but made sure of the second attempt to ensure a healthy 1-5 to 0-2 half-time lead.
Hurley extended the lead early in the second half while sub Kevin Hallissey, just on, might have netted but was unlucky to shoot wide. After O’Callaghan avoided receiving a second yellow card from Michael Collins on the basis of advice from a linesman, Michael’s sub Andy O’Connell got their first score in more than a half-hour but Goulding cancelled that out – though the shot was waved wide in the first instance – to leave it 1-7 to 0-2 at the second-half water break.
After O’Connell and Goulding exchanged points, Murphy and Goulding set up Hallissey to score what was in effect a clinching goal and, after Kelly saved from Deasy again, Hallissey grabbed his second, set up by O’Callaghan.
They eased clear from there and while they will face a stiffer challenge against Skibb in the semi-finals, O’Reilly is looking forward to the challenge.
“They’re coming down from the top level,” he said, “and they’ve been a big team over the years, a good history behind them and everything.
“We think we’re a coming team and we’ll be there or thereabouts.”
: D Goulding (0-9, 2 frees), K Hallissey (2-0), C O’Callaghan (1-1), B Hurley, J Kelleher (0-1 each).
: A O’Connell (0-2, 1 free), E Buckley (free), T Deasy (0-1 each).
: C Kelly; M Corkery, J Mullins, D O’Herlihy; D Twomey, John Cooper, D McCarthy; J Murphy, R O’Toole; Joe Cooper, C O’Callaghan, E O’Shea; B Hurley, D Goulding, L Sheehan.
: K Hallissey for Joe Cooper (35), C Sheehan for L Sheehan (41), D Dineen for Twomey (53), J Kelleher for O’Shea (58), D O’Connor for Hurley (60).
: M Burke; J Golden, O O’Sullivan, J Cashman; T Lenihan, D Meaney, B Cain; M O’Keeffe, E Hickey; D Lenihan, T Deasy, L Grainger; E Buckley, A Hennessy, E Hegarty.
: A O’Callaghan for Meaney (23, injured), E O’Donovan for Buckley (28), A O’Connell for Hickey (half-time), K Hegarty for E Hegarty, R Cotter for Grainger (both 49).
: M Collins (Clonakilty).