Eire Og pegged back twice despite brilliant 2-5 from Damien O’Brien

County SFC quarter final

County SFC quarter final

Eire Og Annacarty 2-9

Thomas MacDonaghs 1-12

(after extra time)

West champions Eire Og Annacarty twice had victory snatched from them in a thrilling county senior football quarter-final at The Ragg on Saturday last, county champions, Thomas MacDonaghs, the North combination, coming late in ordinary time and again in extra time, to force a replay.

It was a fitting outcome to an engrossing game and while Eire Og may feel disappointed at being caught so late in both ordinary time and extra time, the North title holders had done enough to deserve a second chance. Indeed when MacDonaghs reflect on fifteen wides to Eire Og’s four, and a couple of squandered goal-chances, they too may feel they let a semi-final spot slip. In any event, it will be all to play for this week-end when the sides replay.

Eire Og have had a hectic schedule in recent weeks between their hurling and football endeavours, with many big games in the programme, and this may have accounted for the slight drop in the tempo of their game in the critical closing stages which afforded the county champions the chance to keep alive their bid to retain the trophy.

Many spectators were caught out by an earlier than advertised starting time and missed a lively first half in which Eire Og made the early running, going 0-4 to 0-1 clear by the 11th minute as MacDonaghs struggled to find their rhythm. Richie Ryan, Damian O’Brien (2 frees) and Philip McGrath were the marksmen for the West champions, while Philip Austin’s pointed free was the sole reply from the North combo.

MacDonaghs were experiencing problems in front of goal, both from play and frees, but they did better in the second quarter, Austin twice pointing, once from a free, while Padraic O’Dwyer added to the Eire Og tally for a half-time score of 0-5 to 0-3 in the West side’s favour.

After Philip Austin pointed in a matter of seconds on resuming, Damian O’Brien looked to have struck a crucial blow for Eire Og when he was in the right spot to blast to the net the rebound of Richie Ryan’s effort in the 32nd minute.

Eire Og had little time to savour the moment as five minute later a good run by Joe Gallagher through the heart of the Eire Og defence ended with Seamus Hennessy’s shot creeping inside the post for a MacDonaghs goal.

After Damian O’Brien, from a free, extended Eire Og’s lead to two points, MacDonaghs suffered a setback when midfielder Liam England had to withdraw injured, but their response was very positive. Philip Austin pointed, Seamus Hennessy did likewise with an effort that could just as easily have gone under the crossbar, and defender Fergal Hayes put them ahead, 1-7 to 1-6 in the 51st minute, three unanswered points in eight minutes.

But Eire Og showed their mettle too. Damian O’Brien pointed a free a minute later and nudged them ahead with four minutes to go following a good run by Ronan O’Brien. Would it be a winner? With the game in injury time, Philip Austin rescued MacDonaghs with a pointed free after Niall O’Meara was grounded, to leave it 1-8 each at the end of ordinary time.

The late arrivals were going to get value for their money and the contest continued to ebb and flow in the first period of extra time. Darren Mooney had an early point for Eire Og, but two Philip Austin points from frees had MacDonaghs ahead. In injury time, Eire Og’s Kevin Fox was pulled down and Damian O’Brien expertly tucked the penalty away for a 2-9 to 1-10 lead for Eire Og at the half-way stage.

Both sides had goal chances when play resumed. Seamus Hennessy just failed to get a touch to a Philip Austin delivery, and, at the other end, Damian O’Brien, in open space in front of goal, not getting the pass that was required. Four minutes from time, Philip Austin pointed a free and a minute later David Young kicked a mighty point to level the game.

Philip Austin had a final chance for MacDonaghs but from a free at an acute angle, he put wide, leaving the sides to meet again this week-end.

It would have been hard on either to lose, and both seemed happy enough with the outcome. Having twice been caught so close to victory, Eire Og may well feel they should have held on but a fairly heavy schedule of important games in hurling and football looked to be taking its toll. With a week’s recovery they will be up for the action in the replay having had key games from such as Brian Fox, Padraic O’Dwyer, Conor O’Brien, Richard Ryan, Kevin Fox and their chief marksman, Damian O’Brien who bagged 2-5 of their tally.

Thomas MacDonaghs will be hoping the extra game will stand to them as they have been much less busy. They will also be hoping that former county man, Liam England, will be able to line out. Philip Austin was their chief marksman with Seamus Hennessy also a threat. Joe Gallagher, David Buckley and George Hannigan where others who made significant contributions to this performance.

Eire Og, Annacarty – Donncha Horan; Michael O’Dwyer, Conor O’Brien, Oisin O‘Dwyer; Ronan O’Brien, Brian Fox, Padraic O‘Dwyer(0-1); Richard Ryan(0-1), Eoin Kennedy; Dan Hogan, Kevin Fox, Jeremy Furlong; Philip McGrath(0-1), Damian O‘Brien(2-5), Donal O‘Dwyer; Subs- Paul Downey for Furlong; Darren Mooney(0-1) for Hogan; Dan Hogan for O O’Dwyer; Michael McGrath for D O’Dwyer;

Thomas MacDonaghs – Jim McDonnell (Inane Rovers); Fergal Hayes (Kildangan, 0-1), David Buckley (Inane Rovers), Martin Minihan (Kildangan); Ruairi Gleeson (Kildangan), Niall O’Meara (Kilruane), Joe Carroll (Inane Rovers); Liam England (Inane Rovers), George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers); Joe Gallagher (Kildangan), Philip Austin (Borrisokane, 0-9), Pauric O’Meara (ShannonRovers); Aaron Ryan (Inane Rovers), Seamus Hennessy (Kilruane, 1-1), Shane Dooley (Borrisokane); Subs – David Young (Toomevara, 0-1) for Ryan; Andrew Austin (Borrisokane) for England; Diarmuid Cahill (Kilruane) for Carroll;

Referee – Keith O’Brien, Kilsheelan/ Kilcash