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U18 Double league winners   08/12/2023

TUE, 06 JUN, 2023 - 11:18

Double joy for Éire Óg U18s to set up a big summer in Ovens

U18 footballers were crowned Premier 2 league winners and hurlers captured the West Division 1 crown
Double joy for Éire Óg U18s to set up a big summer in Ovens

Colm Clifford, Fintan O'Leary (football captain), Harry O'Reilly (manager of both teams), Daniel Healy (hurling captain) and Chulainn Malone.


IT WAS a memorable May for the Éire Óg U18s as they completed the league double.

The team in red and yellow defeated Clyda Rovers on Sunday, May 14, in the Rebel Óg Premier 2 football final, where two green flags proved crucial for the Ovens team as they prevailed on a scoreline of 2-9 to 0-12 in a tense decider played in Ballinlough.

The hurling final, six days later on Saturday, May 20, was a belter where it took Éire Óg extra time to get over the line against Courcey Rovers in the Rebel Óg West Division 1 final on a scoreline of 1-22 to 4-11 played in Kilbrittain. Josh McCarthy’s accuracy from frees proved important.


Winning the double is an incredible feat and it was achieved without two of their key players in Darragh Clifford and Johnny Galvin who were involved with the Cork minors — Clifford with the footballers and Galvin with the hurlers.

A very good season for a talented group of players under the guidance of Harry O’Reilly, who was in charge of both teams.

With no championship at this grade, the two nerve-shredding finals added more importance to the context of the campaign.

O’Reilly assembled a shrewd management team — Alan O’Regan, John Clifford and Kieran Murphy were involved with the footballers.

The campaign started for Éire Óg on Wednesday, April 5, with a one-point win over Douglas' second team away from home, 2-6 to 1-8 which was followed by wins at home against Bandon, 1-16 to 0-4, and Carrigaline, 0-12 to 1-8.

The Ovens team then made the trip down to Bantry Blues in what was a really tough game and at the end of 60 minutes, the encounter ended in a draw, 3-10 to 2-13, which was enough to send Éire Óg to the semi-final after finishing top on points difference. Kilshannig were the opponents at Ovens and two Daniel Healy goals proved the difference in a 2-10 to 0-10 win.

Clyda Rovers would have been slight favourites in the final; they had just beaten a strong Bantry Blues team in the semi-final.

Add in the fact that Éire Óg were missing a number of important players and it was expected to be a tall order for the team in red and yellow. It was a hard-fought game throughout, but Éire Óg were aided by the wind in the opening 30 minutes.

Daniel Healy’s green flag after 19 minutes gave Éire Óg breathing space, 1-5 to 0-3 and a second goal arrived nine minutes later when Diarmuid O’Keeffe scored from close range. Those two green flags proved crucial.

Despite a late Clyda Rovers rally, Éire Óg had done enough as they won on a scoreline of 2-9 to 0-12. The team was captained by Fintan O’Leary.

Colm Óg Sheehan, Donal Hurley, Brian Darcy O’Sullivan and Mark Kelleher were on the sideline with O’Reilly for the hurling and the season didn’t start well, albeit they played their part in one of the best games this season. Sliabh Rua won an absolute cracker in Ovens, 4-21 to 6-11 on Friday, March 3. 

Pressure was on, but as they have shown in abundance in 2023, Éire Óg showed character, winning four consecutive games to qualify for the final. The first came away to Bandon, 2-17 to 3-12. Two home wins over Courcey Rovers, 3-23 to 0-12, and Ibane Gaels, 3-18 to 1-17, were followed by a local derby victory away at Cloughduv, 3-17 to 0-13.

Courcey Rovers were the opposition in the decider and despite Éire Óg leading 1-9 to 1-4 at the interval, Courceys were the better side in the second half and it took a last-gasp free from Josh McCarthy to rescue the Mid-Cork side and send the game to extra-time. 

It looked like the Carrigdhoun youngsters would prevail in extra-time, but a late flurry of scores gave Éire Óg a two-point win, 1-22 to 4-11. The team was captained by Daniel Healy.

Just four players were on the age from the U18 double-winning team, Colm Clifford, Fintan O’Leary, Daniel Healy and Chulainn Malone. The players just mentioned have been involved with the club's adult teams this year as the conveyor belt of talent continues to roll for the Muskerry club.

Micheál Sheehan, Seán Murphy and Kevin Beechinor are part of the Cork U16 development squads — Sheehan and Murphy with the footballers and Beechinor with the hurlers. They played an integral part in Éire Óg achieving the marvellous double.

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