*David McNamara holds onto the ball. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
A STORMING SECOND half display sent Éire Óg through to the Munster club senior football semi-finals for the second year in a row.
Éire Óg 3-11
The Nire 0-05
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Éire Óg moved through the gears in a devastating third quarter spell yielding a return of 3-05 without reply to win the game in this period. They suffocated their opponents who were simply unable to win their own kickouts and incapable of dealing with the relenting pressure from the Clare champions.
It followed a dull opening half which had few talking points or standout moments to excite the supporters among the attendance of 695.
With over twenty five minutes of football played, both sides had only registered a single score with a multitude of efforts dropping short with the period predominantly controlled by turnovers and failed counter attacks.
By the sounding of the half-time whistle, the sides were tied at 0-02 apiece with neither outfit finding their way into proceedings.
This all changed on the resumption with the Ennis side coming to life with aplomb. They set the tone from the off, responding immediately to Aaron Ryan’s fisted effort to keep the possession in their own attack for the bulk of the third quarter. The loss of Conor Gleeson was felt by the visitors, he was ruled out of the starting fifteen shortly before throw-in.
Gavin Cooney hit 1-01 in quick succession as the Townies put their mark on the game, his goal flying to the roof of the net. Ikem Ugwueru turned over possession from an opposing kickout to find Jarlath Collins who selflessly offloaded to Mark McInerney for him to palm to the net for goal number two on forty two minutes.
Just forty two seconds separated McInerney’s goal and Cooney’s second green flag with Éire Óg again capitalising on a kickout from The Nire to effectively wrap up the contest with forty two minutes played.
They saw out the game with substitute Philip Talty raising two white flags on his introduction while midfielder Darren O’Neill also chipped in with a point while Craig Guiry picked up a second yellow card for their opponents.
Scores were vital but once again the dominant Éire Óg defence would ensure that the umpires would be staying far away from the green flag on their side. Even when the game was not the best spectacle, turnovers from Ronan Lanigan, Oran Cahill and Ciaran Russell demonstrated the workrate that Paul Madden’s side pride themselves on.
Without question, the stakes will be higher and the challenge much greater when Éire Óg travel to Kerry to meet Kerins O’Rahillys in a fortnight’s time. Selection headaches seem apparent which is a major plus for the Townies but a lacklustre repeated opening half display won’t suffice in the home of the All-Ireland champions.
On the day, the twin threat of Gavin Cooney and Mark McInerney led on the scoring stakes while Ronan Lanigan, Ciaran Russell and Ikem Ugwueru played vital roles.
Scorers Éire Óg: G Cooney (2-04 2f), M McInerney (1-03 1’45 1f), P Talty (0-02), D O’Neill (0-01).
Scorers The Nire: D Ryan (0-02 2f), T Guiry (0-01), S Walsh (0-01), A Ryan (0-01).
16: Shane Daniels
4: Ronan Lanigan
3: Aaron Fitzgerald
2: Manus Doherty
7: Ciaran Russell
6: Aidan McGrath
5: Éinne O’Connor
9: David McNamara
12: Niall McMahon
11: Ikem Ugwueru
10: Oran Cahill
17: Jarlath Collins
14: Gavin Cooney
15: Mark McInerney
26: David Reidy for McMahon (40)
13: Philip Talty for McInerney (46)
19: Conor O’Halloran for Cahill (54)
29: Liam Corry for Lanigan (58)
20: Dean D’Auria for Ugwueru (59)
1: Stephen Ryan
3: Sean Boyce
5: Tom Barron
4: Jake Mulcahy
7: Dermot Ryan
6: James McGrath
2: Fionn Hallinan
10: Aaron Ryan
8: Sean Walsh
9: Tholom Guiry
14: Dylan Guiry
12: Jamie Barron
15: Kyle Cuddy
20: Craig Guiry
13: Ciaran Walsh
24: Dave Mahon for Boyce (47)
Referee: John Ryan (Cork)