Goulding fires Éire Óg to senior
County PIFC Final - Éire Óg 0-14, St Michaels 0-12
Knocking hard on the door since lifting the county intermediate title in 2004, Éire Óg were hardly winning out of turn when they came out on top in an enthralling county PIFC final clash with St Michaels at Páirc Uí Rinn last Sunday.
In the process, they avenged the defeat endured at the hands of the city side at the semi final stage last year, which was the third time they had faltered at the penultimate hurdle since moving up a grade, going under to Carrigaline, the eventual champions, and Fermoy as well in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
St Michaels had also endured more than their share of frustration heading into the showpiece, having filled the runners up slot on four occasions since 2012. To say that lack of motivation wasn't a problem for either side would be an understatement, and a cracking contest looked on the cards between two of the premier grade's top teams in recent years.
It certainly lived up to expectations, containing a pulsating first half of end-to-end football and a gripping battle for supremacy after the interval. That Éire Óg had two points to spare at the finish was primarily due to the fact that they made better use of their chances, as there was little or nothing between the sides in general play overall.
With 15 minutes gone, for instance, the Ovens men led by 0-6 to 0-2, with Daniel Goulding bagging three points from frees and Jack Murphy, Diarmuid Dineen and Brian Hurley on target from play during the opening quarter.
The picture could have looked a lot different at that juncture, however, had not Tadgh Deasy failed to convert an easy free for St Michaels before midfielder Shane O'Keeffe shot wide with a gilt-edged goal chance in the fourth minute.
Having squandered the opportunity to snatch the early initiative, St Michaels were forced to play second-fiddle for a spell to an Éire Óg side that had Goulding and Colm O'Callaghan showing up well in attack, Ronan O'Toole making some probing runs from midfield, and their defence, with John Mullins, Diarmuid Dineen and Daire McCarthy especially defiant, resisting stoutly as a unit.
A needless off-the-ball foul by Éire Óg corner back John Kelleher enabled Tadgh Deasy to pull a point back for St Michaels in the 17th minute and another followed after impressive wing-back Billy Cain gathered the ensuing kick-out to set up Kevin Hegarty.
It allowed the Blackrock men to regain their composure, although it took a superb save by 'keeper Martin Burke to deny Brian Hurley - who had been put clean through by Ronan O'Toole - a goal at the expense of a '45 five minutes later.
Daniel Goulding converted the resultant chance to make it 0-7 to 0-4, but St Michaels finished the first half strongly, cutting the gap to the minimum before Billy Cain failed to equalise from a good position, bringing their wide-count to five, four more than Éire Óg, before the break.
The momentum appeared to be with St Michaels facing into for the second half, but, following good work by Jack Murphy, Colm O'Callaghan drew first blood for Éire Óg on the turnover.
Daniel Goulding quickly tacked on another, leaving them 0-10 to 0-7 to the good inside 33 minutes before St Michaels responded with a hat-trick of scores, shared by Tadgh Deasy, Eric Hegarty and Liam O'Sullivan, nearing the three-quarter mark.
An exchange of points between ever-industrious centre forward Colm O'Callaghan and O'Sullivan followed, but St Michaels, with wing-backs Tom Lenihan and Billy Cain and midfielder Daniel Meaney to the fore, appeared to growing in stature coming down the home stretch.
In keeping with the general pattern of the proceedings, Éire Óg pulled out a little bit extra when the need was greatest, regaining the lead through an excellent point from Daniel Goulding in the 55th minute.
Centre-back John Cooper, fed by substitute Ciaran Sheehan, quickly added another, shortly after excellent full back John Mullins had foiled a promising St Michaels raid at the other end, and Éire Óg were effectively home and hosed after Daniel Goulding pointed a free to push them three ahead in stoppage time.
They were forced to soak up some strong pressure in the dying minutes from the gutsy losers at the same time. St Michaels fate was sealed, however, after Tadgh Deasy's ambitious effort to equalise from a close-in free went over the bar seconds before the last whistle.
Éire Óg: E Kelleher; J Kelleher, J Mullins, D O'Herlihy; D McCarthy, John Cooper (0-1), D Dineen (0-1); J Murphy (0-1), R O'Toole; L Sheehan, K Hallissey, E O'Shea; D Goulding (0-8, 5f, 1 '45), C O'Callaghan (0-2), B Hurley (0-1) Subs: C Sheehan for Hallissey, 43, M O'Shea for Dineen, 48, Joe Cooper for O'Shea, 54, D Murphy for Hurley, 58, A O'Mahony for L Sheehan, (bc) 62
St Michaels: M Burke; O O'Sullivan, D Cormack, R Dineen; T Lenihan (0-1), A O'Callaghan, B Cain (0-1); D Meaney, S O'Keeffe; K Hegarty (0-1), T Deasy (0-4, 2f), D Lenihan; L O'Sullivan (0-3), E Hegarty (0-2, 1f), D Cremin Subs: E Sheehan for D Lenihan, ht, A Hennessy for K Hegarty, 46, E Buckley for L O'Sullivan, 53, E Hickey for E Hegarty, 63.
Referee: A Long (Argideen Rangers)