Sport Gaelic Football

Saturday 18 November 2017

Flight of Earls leaves Eire Og out in the cold

St Patrick's (Wicklow) 3-10 Eire Og (Carlow) 2-11 (After extra-time)
Leinster Club SFC

Eire Og, five times winners of the Leinster club title, bowed out at the first hurdle when beaten by St Patrick's in a sensational finish to their match in Aughrim.

The sides were level at 1-8 apiece after 60 gripping minutes of football and the Wicklow champions, who were dominating after a poor first half, were clinging to a two-point lead (2-10 to 1-11) as the game entered the last minutes of extra-time.

Eire Og piled on the pressure as they went in search of a winner and their prayers looked to be answered when corner-forward Eric McCormack, their most dangerous attacker, fired a scorching shot to the corner of the net.

But the Wicklow champions did not drop their heads and the Carlow cheers had scarcely time to subside when St Patrick's substitute Donie Fitzgerald pumped the ball into the Eire Og goalmouth and Paul Earls beat goalkeeper Robert Moore to the punch and forced the ball over the line.

The goal stood after referee Maurice Deegan consulted with his umpires and St Patrick's became the first Wicklow team to get past the first round in nine years. They will have another home match against Portlaoise in the next round.

Eire Og's players were the more pacy and played the more fluid football in the opening half despite playing against the wind, with Simon Rea capitalising on some mistakes in the home defence to fire home a goal after just a minute.

Sean Gannon and Murtough Ware were controlling midfield for Eire Og and Patrick's were lucky to retire at half-time on level terms with their opponents at 1-4 apiece, the goal scored by Austin O'Malley whose shot from the left touchline slipped into the net off the hands of goalkeeper Robbie Moore.

St Patrick's settled better in the second half, dominated a lot of the play, particularly in the last 15 minutes, but Matty Byrne and Tommy Kelly failed to convert three vital frees.

In injury-time, Eric McCormack kicked the equaliser for Eire Og from a pressure free to make it 1-8 apiece and send the contest into extra-time.

The Wicklow champions were growing in confidence as the game progressed and play-everywhere Dara O'Sullivan was leading their charge.

He set up O'Malley for his second goal and St Patrick's led by 2-9 to 1-10.

In the second period of extra-time, Patrick's were still holding on to their two-point lead coming up to the finish. It looked as if McCormack was going to spoil the party for the Wicklow men but Donie Fitzgerald and Paul Earls combined for the decisive goal.

Scorers -- St Patrick's: A O'Malley 2-2, M Byrne 0-4f, P Earls 1-2, D O'Sullivan, T Kelly 0-1 each. Eire Og: E McCormack 1-6 (3f, 1 '45), S Rea 1-0, M Ware, B Carberry, E Ruth, B Hennessy, M Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

St Patrick's -- C Byrne; S Murley, P Higgins, R Connolly; P McWalter, C Doyle, D Healy; D McEvoy, N Kennedy; M Byrne, P Earls, R Murphy; T Kelly, A O'Malley, D. O'Sullivan.

Subs: D Fitzgerald for N Kennedy, A Jameson for C Doyle.

Eire Og -- R Moore; V Kavanagh, C McCarthy, P McElligott; B Kavanagh, D Hayden, A Callinan; S Gannon, M Ware; B Carberry, B Hennessy, E Ruth; E McCormack, K Hession, S Rea.

Subs: J Lowry for P McElligott, D O'Brien for K Hession, M Fitzgerald for B Carberry, C Mullen for S Rea, T Dowling for C McCarthy, B Carberry for M Fitzgerald, C Blake for D O'Brien.

Ref -- M Deegan (Laois).

Irish Independent

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