Éire Óg deliver the goods
IT wasn’t a game that will linger too long in the memory, but that won’t bother Éire Óg, who ran out comfortable winners over Glen Rovers at Pairc Ui Rinn last Friday evening.
Their reward is a place in the quarter-finals of the county IHC where they’ll square up to highly-rated Sarsfields, and they won’t need to be told that significant improvement on this showing will be required in order to negotiate their next obstacle.
In fairness, Éire Óg’s preparations weren’t ideal, given that football commitments took priority in the club over the past few weeks and they got the job done in convincing style in the end.
They were certainly the better team in the second half when the input from Kevin Hallissey, switched from wing-forward and the ever-influential John Cooper at midfield was a key factor in enabling them to gain the upper-hand.
Their defence, in which Aidan O’Connor, Dermot O’Herlihy and Brian Corcoran were especially resolute, established firm control as well, so much so that the Glen, having drawn level through a point from a placed ball by Paul Virgo in the 40th minute, didn’t add to their tally until Andy Evans blasted in a goal from a free deep in stoppage time.
In the interim, Éire Óg had put 1-8 on the board, with Hallissey chipping in with a couple of excellent scores from play, and John Dineen, Eoin O’Shea and substitute Brian Hurley also bagging points before O’Shea, who achieved most up front overall, completed their purple-patch with a goal in the dying minutes.
There was little to indicate in the first half that Éire Óg would eventually coast home, not least because of their problems in the full-back line where Paul Virgo carried the main threat for the Glen.
At the other end, Éire Óg struggled to make headway for much of the opening period, although they did manage to hit the front for the first time, 1-2 to 0-3, after Daniel Goulding latched on to a delivery by wingback Fionn O’Rourke to grab a goal in the 12th minute.
They were forced to go 12 minutes without a score after that, however, and they had reason to be thankful for the sharpness of ‘keeper Dylan Desmond, who saved well from Glen wing forward David Browne midway through the first half.
They had slipped two points adrift before Kevin Hallissey ended their barren-spell from a free, and, aided by late scores from Ronan O’Toole and Eoin O’Shea, who posted a brace, they regained the lead before Paul Virgo earned the Glen parity, 1-6 to 0-9, at the interval.
Hallissey drew first blood for Éire Óg on the turnover, but it took another superb save by Dylan Desmond to prevent Virgo from restoring the advantage to the Glen in the 39th minute.
Virgo brought the Glen back on terms from a free a minute later, but Éire Óg came up with most of the answers after that, and the manner in which they raised their game in all sectors was most encouraging, even if their overall performance left a bit to be desired on this occasion.