Éire Óg 1-30
Bagenalstown Gaels 0-5
By Kieran Murphy
AN ultra-confident and irrepressible Éire Óg skated to an emphatic semi-final victory over their less experienced opponents in this senior football championship semi-final at Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday.
The atrociously wet conditions should have made it difficult for both teams but Éire Óg’s handling in particular was extraordinarily good. Bagenalstown Gaels also defied the conditions well but had no answer to the champions who would hardly play as well in sunny weather.
Within 10 seconds from the throw-in Sean Gannon got his side off the mark with a point. The scores just followed after that. The champions went for everything. Looking up the field and around him, the Bagenalstown keeper Ciaran Cunningham must have seen only a sea of red as Éire Óg players moved to close down his attempts at finding a colleague from the kick-out.
He fought a losing battle. Cormac Mullins, Darragh O’Brien and Jordan Morrissey all pointed for the YIs before Robbie Kane landed a fifth-minute free for the challengers.
No pun intended on a wet, wet night but that moment of defiance was more a question of putting a finger in the hole of the dam. Derek Hayden, Mark Furey, O’Brien again and Chris Blake followed up with further points. On 10 minutes the game was all but up for Bagenalstown Gaels. They were learning the hard lesson.
The goal which was coming eventually arrived on 19 minutes when Chris Blake’s exquisite pass from the ground picked out Mullins in space and he finished to the bottom corner of the net.
Kane knocked over the Gaels’ second point when he picked up loose ball and snaffled a score off the Éire Óg defence who were voracious in search of possession. Ciaran Cunningham landed a 45 for Bagenalstown but by half-time Éire Óg were playing for places in the decider and their rivals were playing for pride. 1-16 to 0-3 told a story without frills.
Two minutes into the second half Blake knocked over another point and the Éire Óg storm in the horrible conditions continued unabated.
Three of the champions’ early second-half substitutions put themselves on the score sheet.
It would be patronising to suggest Bagenalstown battled to the end. They don’t need that. It certainly didn’t happen for them on the night and the champions were merciless. Their positives will have to come from elsewhere. Perhaps their win over Old Leighlin in the knock-out stages? Qualifying for the knock-stages was good. These are the memories of a season which should not be hung on one bad game.
Éire Óg: Rickie Keating (0-2, 45 free); Richie Mahon (0-1), Mark Fitzgerald, Benny Kavanagh (0-1); Jordan Lowry, Mark Furey (0-1), Paul McElligott; Jordan Morrissey (0-4), Sean Gannon (0-2); Recce Denieffe, Darragh O’Brien (0-3), Eoghan Ruth (0-1); Chris Blake (0-4, 0-1 free), Derek Hayden (0-1), Cormac Mullins (1-4). Subs: Ross Dunphy (0-3) for Hayden, Colm Hulton (0-2) for Mullins, Niall Quinlan (0-1) for Denieffe (all 40 mins), Adam Murphy for Blake, Kelvin Chatten for Gannon (58 mins).
Bagenalstown Gaels: Ciaran Cunningham (0-1, 45); Martin Cummins, Alan Corcoran, Thomas Maher; Alan Beaton, Andrew Casey, Shane Clarke; John Doyle, David Kennedy; Danny Doyle, Jamie Clarke, Cian Doyle; Robbie Kane (0-4, 0-3 frees), Andrew Beaton, Liam Galway. Subs: Darren Crooks for Alan Beaton, Richie Whelan for Cummins, Jamie Whelan for Galway (all half-time), Thomas McDonnell for Kennedy (46 mins), David Miley for J Clarke (51 mins).
Referee: Jonathan Murphy (St Mullins)