Intermediate men’s football: If semi-finals are there to be won, then Éire Óg went above and beyond that when defeating a very talented Kilcoole side in Aughrim to book a place against Annacurra in this year’s Intermediate football final.
Kilcoole have consistently proved to be a serious force in Intermediate football in Wicklow, having reached the semi-final last year, their running game seemed even more refined this year which makes this Éire Óg performance that bit more impressive with Darren Hayden once again proving to be the talesman for this impressive Greystones side.
Éire Óg, who were slow to start their quarter-final clash against Coolkenno, began with a similar passive opening as Kilcoole settled much quicker, racing into a 0-3 to 0-1 with frees coming from Lee Dutton and Luke Evans to one Sam Thompson mark.
The Greystones men just seem to have this ability to turn it on like a tap, however, as Darren Hayden clipped over a free before getting an all-important touch on a high dropping Dave Rooney ball in for the game’s first goal.
This major began a sequence of play that Kicoole were powerless to stop. First, Thompson, who was out in front every time, collected a Danny Woods pass, pulled the brakes and turned on a sixpence to find the top corner to complement a second Darren Hayden free.
An outrageous goal for Éire Óg who were now just getting started as Dan Keane and Joe Prendergast got off the mark in a period where Kilcoole to their credit found three points, the pick off which was a team score started by Evans and finished by Dutton who would see his side’s net ripple again minutes later.
Sam Thompson again collected and headed for goal only to win his side a dubious penalty which Darren Hayden converted. The same man would be raising another green flag to complete his hat-trick minutes later with Joe Prendergast sending a perfectly weighted pass for Thompson to knock down as Hayden collected and sent keeper and full-back the wrong way before finding the net for a 12-point lead at half-time.
With the game now beyond Kilcoole, they stayed competitive, scoring a further five points in the second half with a special mention going to Lee Dutton who has put up huge tallies in all championship outings, but it would be Éire Óg who would romp home empathically with a variety of scorers.
White flags were raised by Hayden, Shaun Cranley, Sam Thompson and Shaun Cranley again before Kilcoole could settle in an incredible start to the second half which illustrates the drive in this Greystones team.
It would be the 38th minute before Dutton would get Kilcoole of the mark with a first free. Dan Keane would begin the next spree of Greystones scores as Hayden and Cranley who was beginning to run the show would kick further efforts just as Dutton would fire over a monster from a huge distance out almost in frustration for a great point.
The benches now being sprung by both sides would not change the quality of the contest, with strong personnel being introduced for both teams as Fintan O’Shea and Shaun Cranley would trade three scores with Luke Evans and Eoin Keddy to end a comprehensive victory for Éire Óg who will face Annacurra in the Intermediate football final.
Éire Óg Greystones: Billy Norman; James Wood, Stephen Kelly, Peter Keane; Fionn O’Carroll, Fintan O’Shea (0-1), Dave Rooney; Cillian Keane, Darragh Shiel; Joe Prendergast (0-1), Dan Keane (0-2), Danny Wood; Sam Thompson (1-3), Darren Hayden (3-4, 1-4f), Shaun Cranley (0-5, 1f). Subs: Gavin O’Shea for P Keane (36), Cian Hynes for S Kelly (50), James Cranley for S Thompson (55).
U14 Ladies Football: After a clinical and relentless showing from Éire Óg at a sun drenched Ballymoney on Sunday evening, they sealed their spot in the under-14 ‘A’ final. It was a fantastic and entertaining game between the two sides and, despite the score line, AGB fought until the end.
With a place in the championship final at stake, both sides started the affair slightly nervous. It was Éire Óg who created the most chances early on with Lucy O’Leary and Lauren O’Leary looking dangerous.
Just after the tenth minute, the deadlock was broken and after Lauren O’Leary’s free dropped just short, Lucy O’Leary gathered superbly and finished on the half turn to score her side’s opening goal of the game.
AGB responded immediately from their kick out. Full forward Aine McKerr went on a fantastic solo run from her own 45-yard line. A give and go with centre forward Ailbhe Cullen helped carve open the Éire Óg defence for the first time, before McKerr calmly slotted the ball over the bar.
AGB struggled with their opponent’s constant running off the shoulder and this is how they conceded for the second time. Kitty O’Beirne and Ciara O’Farrell linked up well and after O’Beirne’s shot was saved by AGB netminder Freya Molloy, the ball fell into the path of the dangerous Lucy O’Leary who finished yet again from close range.
The home side bounced back through another piece of individual brilliance. This time from Jade Carroll. After a long ball forward from Erin Byrne, Carroll found herself isolated inside the Éire Óg half. This didn’t stop the AGB corner forward as she embarked on a wonderful solo run, before finishing into the top corner to bring her side within two points of Éire Óg.
Sadly, for the Arklow side, this was as good as it got in the first period and after Ciara O’Farrell’s goal midway through the first period, they extended their lead with points from Lucy O’Leary and Jordan Winterbach to send Éire Óg into the break with a 3-2 to 1-1 lead.
The second half saw an even more composed and comfortable showing from Éire Óg who really grew into the occasion. An injury to AGB sharpshooter Aine McKerr also didn’t help their cause.
The visitors started the second half with two quick fire goals to put the game to bed early on courtesy of Kitty O’Beirne and Ciara O’Farrell.
AGB replied with a point of their own from Jade Carroll, but their scores dried up after her point. Caoimhe Davis’s free helped edge them closer to the final before Ciara O’Farrell secured her hat trick midway through the half.
The north Wicklow side put the icing on the cake with two scores from midfielder Lauren O’Leary who was instrumental in the engine room throughout the game.
It was a terrific showing from Éire Óg to overcome a strong AGB side and it will take a lot to stop them from lifting the under-14 ‘A’ championship title.
Éire Óg: Rebecca O’Connor; Maisie Grey, Naoimi Wall, Siofra O’Farrell; Isabella O’Farrell, Ella Andrews, Erica Sommers; Thea Sterritt, Lauren O’Leary (0-2,1f); Jordan Whitelock (0-1), Grace Rush, Caoimhe Davis (0-1,1f); Ciara O’Farrell (3-0), Kitty O’Beirne (1-0), Lucy O’Leary (2-1). Subs: Aoibhe Keating for Rebecca O’Connor (50), Laoise O’Gorman for Kitty O’Beirne (50).