By Peter O’Connell
Éire Óg 0-15
WHAT a difference 86 phone calls can make. After giving a walkover to Moy in their Division 6 League fixture on May 12, Éire Óg called an emergency meeting attended by Mattie Murphy, Pat Fitzpatrick, Robbie Malone and junior football captain, John Griffin.
They weren’t overreacting, as Éire Óg had already given earlier walkovers to Killimer, Kilmurry Ibrickane and Wolfe Tones.
Speaking after Éire Óg had won the Junior A Championship, selector Mattie Murphy recalled that fateful meeting.
“We were after giving three walkovers because we couldn’t field a team. I think we had 11 for the Wolfe Tones game. I brought every team list from last year and we went through every name available. John Griffin took the phone number of every one of those 86 players and contacted them. We played two league games after that. We beat O’Curry’s by a point and we beat Kilkee,” Mattie recalled.
Fast-forward five months and Éire Óg have the Junior A Championship on the club mantelpiece following a manly final tussle with Cooraclare in Lissycasey on Sunday.
They had 31 of those aforementioned 86 players togged out as they edged beyond Cooraclare in extra time. The winners led 0-6 to 1-2 at half-time in normal time but were dealt a setback when David Monaghan limped off with a hamstring injury, three minutes before the break. That said, his replacement, David Reidy, wasn’t exactly a step down for the Townies. In fact, Reidy’s battle with Cooraclare full-back Tomás Morrissey was worth keeping an eye on all through. Reidy had the edge pace wise but found Morrissey’s disciplined, goal-side tackling a fair obstacle.
Enda Considine scored Cooraclare’s first-half goal, with Michael McMahon putting over both points, while Kevin Brennan (0-2), Niall McMahon, Daryl Eade, David Monaghan and Fergal Brennan scored their points.
A feature of the first half was Paudie Mescall’s kick-outs into the wind and his fifth-minute save from Niall McMahon.
The play opened up a bit in the second half, with both teams kicking nice points from play. John Griffin landed two crucial scores for Éire Óg, while Darragh O’Dea showed his class in the Cooraclare full-forward line. In fact, it was O’Dea’s 54th minute-free that led to extra time. The teams were tied (0-10 to 1-7) after 60 minutes of honest football. They were still deadlocked, Éire Óg 0-13 Cooraclare 1-10, at half-time in extra time.
Tommy O’Connor, from a 45’, and Tadhg Lillis put over the pick of Cooraclare’s extra-time points, while Aidan McGrath, with a superb free and Niall McMahon angled over exceptional points.
Kevin Moynihan and David Monaghan (free) were the only scorers in extra time, as Éire Óg held on for victory.
Wing-back James Woods was outstanding for the winners, while Dean D’Auria, Kevin Brennan, Niall McMahon and David Monaghan all played big roles.
For Cooraclare, Paudie Mescall, Tomás Morrissey, Tadhg Lillis, Michael McMahon, Kevin Clohessy, who was deployed as an extra defender, and Darragh O’Dea gave everything.
Éire Óg: Colin Burke; Mattie Melican, Mark Kelly, Dean D’Auria; Adrian Walsh, Aidan McGrath, James Woods; Gary Walsh, Fergal Brennan; John Griffin (captain), Kevin Moynihan, Daryl Eade; David Monaghan, Niall McMahon, Kevin Brennan.
Subs: David Reidy for David Monaghan (inj), Brian McMahon for Kevin Moynihan, Conall O’hAineféin for John Griffin, David Monaghan for Daryl Eade and Kevin Moynihan for Brian McMahon.
Scorers: Kevin Brennan (0-3), David Monaghan (1f), Niall McMahon, John Griffin (0-2 each), Daryl Eade, Fergal Brennan, David Reidy, Niall McMahon, Aidan McGrath (f) and Kevin Moynihan (0-1 each).
Frees: 32; wides: 12; 45s: 1.
Yellow cards: Aidan McGrath and Gary Walsh.
Cooraclare: Paudie Mescall; Shane Donnellan, Tomás Morrissey, Kevin Looney; Robert Ryan, Kieran Hassett, Cathal Murphy; Tadhg Lillis, Fergal Lillis; John Francis Killeen, Michael McMahon, Joey Kelly; Enda Considine, Darragh O’Dea, Kevin Clohessy.
Subs: Caoimhin Donnellan for John Francis Killeen, Tommy O’Connor for Cathal Murphy and David Lillis for Fergal Lillis.
Scorers: Darragh O’Dea (0-4, 2f), Enda Considine (1-1), Michael McMahon (0-3), Tommy O’Connor (45’) and Tadhg Lillis (0-1 each).
Frees: 27; wides: 9; 45s: 1.
Yellow cards: Joey Kelly and Tommy O’Connor.
Referee: Jim Hickey, Cratloe.