On a sunbaked & scorching evening in Greenford, West London, a feast of football was served up by both sides with Éire Óg prevailing by the narrowest of margins after extra time.
Éire Óg were minus cyclist Peter Sweeney fresh from his American Forrest Gump (but with a bike) adventures & Conor Kearney who tore his hamstring on Saturday, apparently during the victory over Tara’s, but more likely moonwalking during a karaoke session!
In truth it was a deserved win for the Harringay based outfit ho hit the front from the off-set with Westmeath native John Coyle rattling off several scores from both frees & play, coupled with a soccer style finish that would have been worthy of neighbouring Wembley Stadium, which left Éire Óg 1-8 to 2-2 ahead at the break.
In the second half against a slight breeze, Parnells took the initiative with some early scores. However dogged work at the back, led by the evergreen Pat Tobin along with strong fielding around the middle by Meathman Stephen O’Keefe helped Éire Óg rally back & after some fine work by Tony Rogan (his 9-2 work schedule reaping dividend in the summer sun), Darragh Cotter roamed forward to slot stylishly beyond the Parnells netminder giving Éire Óg a 5 point cushion going into the water break & final quarter.
However the final quarter of normal time was to prove challenging for the men in green as Parnells ran in 1-3 without reply, to leave Éire Óg trailing by a point going into ‘Fergie time’. Cometh the hour & cometh the man, Joe McMahon introduced a short time earlier & looking energised after consuming a bag of jellies, shot over two points after good work from John Whyte, Stephen Hyland & in particular Sligo man Jason Boals. There was however time for more late drama with Tara winning a somewhat fortuitous free (in this writers’ opinion) & leaving the teams deadlocked at Full Time.
More drama through the guise of 20 minutes Extra Time to come. Further points from Hyland & McMahon were cancelled out by the Parnells youngsters bringing the sides level once more, at Half Time in Extra Time.
At this point team sheets, water bottles & midget spray had all been dispensed with in favour of rosary beads on the sideline. Furthermore, the queue for physio Dermot Heslin was reminiscent of Kings Cross of a rush hour Monday morning.
10 minutes to go & could Éire Óg find a winner & a route into Division 2? The answer was unequivocally yes. After chances at either end & some fine goalkeeping from Dave Hegarty to deny a couple of goal chances, Sean Brennan steamed forward from half back & send a spinning effort goalward. The spinning skyward sphere took an age to get over & the point couldn’t even be denied by the Parnells umpire as it landed sweetly above the back-spot. 2-17 to 3-13 in favour of Éire Óg & that’s how it finished. A pulsating encounter & what a way to secure promotion to the promised land of Division 2 after a two-year absence.
Best for Éire Óg – where does one start? Solid defensive displays by Barry O’Dowd alongside Niall Murray & Mikey McDonagh in the Full Back line, Ronie Campfield worked tirelessly in half back getting forward & breaking up play. The midfield pairing of O’Keefe & Deise man Ger Crowley were troganlike & covered ever blade of glass against a formidable youthful & athletic Parnells pairing.
Up front Hyland, Cotter & Rogan in particular dug deep to win ball & offer support throughout, while on the edge of the square Coyle had a very fruitful evening.
However, given his energy & leadership throughout, whilst not forgetting his full time battle cry (which made Al Pacino’s Any Given Sunday Speech look like a soft lullaby), the award for Man of the Match goes to Corkonian Pat Tobin.
With a lot of talk of Claret jugs this week, Éire Óg now face a more formibable one in old adversary St Clarets on Sunday (July 28th) in Ruislip at 4pm. If the semi-final is anything to go by, it is a game not to be missed!
Filed by Pez