ÉIRE ÓG GREYSTONES
On Wednesday evening last Luke O’Tooles made the long journey from Shillelagh and its environs to play Éire Óg in the Minor championship in Greystones. A David and Goliath scenario in the minds of many as Luke O’Tooles were last four contenders and Éire Óg were pointless going into this, the last game in the group. In the earlier rounds Éire Óg were at the end of multi-score drubbings and this had given rise to a scepticism about their having the resolve to fulfil their commitments in the competition - a perspective formed, however, in the ignorance of the belief the management had in the underlying potential of the group and the depth of their mentors’ determination to realise it.
It required hard, patience-demanding work but a confidence in their ability was gradually built up in the lads and each game saw an incremental improvement in the team’s play to the point that, in their later games, they were running some of the better teams close for longer and longer periods. As yet, however, they had not been able to exert their superiority over the 60 minutes. Last Wednesday provided the breakthrough. The team’s refusal to be daunted by its many defeats had its reward. They won an exciting high quality game 2-11 to 1-11. The game was fully deserving of the epithet ‘contest’: 25 scores (to keep tally, an alacrity in arithmetic was required - a quality found to be singularly lacking among the Éire Óg supporters who were in permanent dispute as to the state of play!) with minimal advantage fluctuating with equality throughout a game replete with exemplary sportsmanship and wholehearted endeavour. For the supporters, excitement-generated exhaustion was their lot; tinged understandably with a feel-good factor for the locals and with disappointment for Luke O’Tooles to whom we wish the best of luck against a strongly fancied Blessington in the semi-final.
There were some fine individual performances particularly from Leon Hargan - his fielding was spectacular - who held the upper hand at centre-field even though opposed by county player Brian Walsh and from Conor Daly at centre-forward who proved to be a handful for another county star, Stephen Dillon.
Michael Walsh at centre-back and Johnny Carroll on his left were instrumental in breaking down many of the opponents’ attacks. Conor O’Donovan was a most reliable corner back and Jonathan O’Brien brought a welcome brand of steel to the full-forward line. Conor Madigan, while performing his custodial duties with élan, initiated many an Éire Óg attack with the pinpoint accuracy of his kick-outs. Dual players Jack Tanner and Peter Keane(capt.) also made significant contributions. Peter, who was celebrating his birthday that Wednesday, scored 2-1. A goal from a cross from Barry O’Donnell which was the turning point in the game was followed by a beautifully taken point, and then the winning goal from a fisted pass at the end of an accurately timed run.
The ladies have once again reached the final of the Junior Championship which is being played as the opener to the senior final on next Sunday in Aughrim. Throw-in in our game is at 12 noon. This avoids a clash with the hurling final. Mar sin níl aon leathsgéal agat.
No doubt our ladies see some irony in the fact that their opponents in last year’s final, the then recently regraded An Tóchar, this year contest the senior final.
Éire Óg defeated St. Pat’s on the score 5-8 to 2-6 in the semi-final. The score implies a facile win but that was far from being the case. The attrition of a closely contested and high tempo 1st half told in the 2nd period. Éire Óg were extremely lucky in the choice of fresh legs afforded them by a substitute bench containing an abundance of experienced and fit players. Probably the deciding factor in the end.
The improvement in Éire Óg’s team play was exemplified in a well-taken goal from Leslie-Ann Long at the end of an outfield passing movement which had channelled the ball through Caoilfhionn Deeney and Laurie Ahern. However some lapses in concentration and communication in the back division resulted in St.Pats goals at crucial times in the 1st half. Siobhán O’Riordan heralded her arrival after the interval with a spirit- raising point. Another of her efforts fell short but Janet Nolan, with uncanny anticipation, had timed a 40m run to be on hand to dispatch the dropping ball to the back of the net. Young Sophie Nolan, who improves with every game, topped off an excellent performance at half-back with a vital dispossession in our own full-back line. A satisfactory team display but a step-up in performance will be required if we are to overcome a strong Baltinglass team in the final.
The club extends its sincerest sympathies to Declan Hogan, a member of the Intermediate team, to his father Jimmy and to the Hogan family on the death of Declan’s grandfather, Jimmy. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.