Friday, November 10, 2017



Eire Og players celebrate at the final whistle with their win over Rathvilly at Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday.
Photo: Thomas Nolan Photography.

By Kieran Murphy

WHILE much will be made of the two strikes from Eoghan Ruth and Jordan Morrissey’s in each half the work of players in the heart of the defence can sometimes go unnoticed.

Mark Fitzgerald is one such player. On Sunday he delivered for Éire Óg.

As an underage star he would not have been the typical full-back but he fits in well with this team’s style of play. In defence he is as sticky as toffee but he is also comfortable on the ball. After a good underage career this was his first senior title.

“It is what we wanted since we were young lads. It is unreal. We have had savage lads playing in the full-back line. I think I drew the short straw,” he joked when asked how he ended up in the last line of defence.

“As full-back with goalkeeper, Robbie (Moore), our job is no goals.

“Ok, they got two penalties but we didn’t want to concede goals and if we didn’t we had a great chance of winning. That got us over the line.”

Eire Og’s Robert Moore picks the right side as he saves J.J Smith’s penalty.
Photo: Thomas Nolan Photography.

Such was Éire Óg’s superiority in the second half a modest three point winning margin at the end should probably have been more. In the end they were glad to hear the full-time whistle.

1-4 of Gary Dempsey’s 1-5 may have come from placed balls but he was a livewire all through and all he needed was a break of a ball which could have changed the game in Rathvilly’s favour.

“When we were up by six or seven we had to keep playing. With the quality of the Rathvilly forwards we couldn’t relax. Gary Dempsey brings you to one sideline and the other. He runs like a hare. That is what they have,” agreed Fitzgerald.

Robbie Moore was winning his fourth senior title. The 36 year old saved a penalty and made a brilliant block shortly after JJ Smith failed to beat the Éire Óg net-minder from the spot.

“We were six points up at that stage. If it had gone in our backs would have been to the wall. Thankfully, I got my hand to it and managed to keep it out,” said Moore.

He hinted nothing was left to chance on the training field.

“That is all the work done with James Brady, the goalkeeping coach. There are three of us training two and three nights a week and it pays off in the end.”

Moore could have hit back at those that criticised the team but he was magnanimous in victory.

“This is massive. When you are in the spotlight you are there to be criticised and when you win people tap you on the back,” he said.

Victory came down to the contribution of an entire and dedicated panel.

“At the end of the day it is a team game. From one to thirty five we got our rewards today,” added Fitzgerald.

“It is everything we wanted. We will enjoy this.”


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