Éire Óg 0-8
BRENDAN KENNEALLY REPORTS
BALLINCOLLIG are the Macroom Motors Mid Cork U21 A football champions after they deposed the champions, Éire Óg, in a hard-fought final at Cloughduv.
It’s the first time since 2016 that Ballincollig have won this competition.
Éire Óg were bidding to make it four-in-a-row and fought all the way to retain their crown but on the night Ballincollig were slightly the better side and their ability to get two goals proved decisive.
Their first goal was crucial as it came just before half time when Éire Óg had gone into a three-point lead after a very productive second quarter. It put Ballincollig in a strong position as they would have the benefit of the wind in the second half.
Still, ten minutes from time only a point separated the teams and there was always the possibility that an Éire Óg goal could alter the result.
Scores were scarce in the opening quarter as defences were sharp on both sides. Darragh Dorgan opened the scoring with a Ballincollig point from a free after seven minutes before Éire Óg goalkeeper Jack Forde did really well to deny Dylan Ebili a goal soon after.
There were no further scores until the quarter-hour mark when Éire Óg drew level from a Brian Thompson point. In quick succession the champions went in front with points from Jack Sheehan and Sam O’Driscoll. Darragh Dorgan got a badly-needed score for Ballincollig, but Éire Óg were much improved now in attack and Sam O’Driscoll kicked a point in the 21st minute and Jack Sheehan soon added another to open up a three-point gap, 0-5 to 0-2.
It was a reasonable lead heading for the interval but in the final minute of the half Ballincollig struck for a vital goal. Harry Ahearne dispossessed a defender, Conor O’Leary grabbed possession and released Evan Cooke who blasted to the Éire Óg net to level the scores.
Even though Éire Óg regained the lead with a Darragh Coakley point to lead 0-6 to 1-2 at the break, the advantage now lay with Ballincollig who would have the wind behind them in the second half.
Éire Óg goalkeeper Forde made another fine save on the resumption but could not prevent a 35th-minute goal from Harry Ahearne after Sean Dore and Evan Cooke had created the opening.
Any expectation that the winners would now surge ahead were quickly dampened as Colm Quigley fired over a point for Éire Óg within minutes and the Ovens men wasted chances of an equaliser as the game became very competitive.
There were no further scores until the 49th minute when Brian Moore sent over a fine point for Ballincollig shortly after Éire Óg had a defender black carded. Within minutes again Éire Óg replied, Sam O’Driscoll pointing a free, to leave only a single point still between the teams. The two teams were really giving their all, the next score would be critical and when it came it was a superb point for Ballincollig from Darragh Dorgan in the 58th minute.
Éire Óg now lost a man to a second yellow card and Stephen Wills converted the free to further ease the situation for Ballincollig.
Scorers - Ballincollig: E Cooke, H Ahearne 1-0 each; D Dorgan 0-3 (2f); B Moore, S Wills (f) 0-1 each. Éire Óg: S O’Driscoll 0-3 (2f); J Sheehan 0-2; B Thompson, D Coakley, C Quigley 0-1 each.
Ballincollig: Chris Walsh; Ryan O’Neill, Shane Buckley, Dillon Horgan; Sean O’Donoghue, Jason O’Connor, Harry Ahearne; Sean Dore, Mark Oldham; Mark O'Keeffe, Evan Cooke, Conor O’Leary; Darragh Dorgan, Dylan Ebili, Stephen Wills. Subs: Callum Sheehan for M O’Keeffe (ht), Brian Moore for D Ebili (45).
Éire Óg: Jack Forde; Conor Eagles, Kevin Cooper, Adam McCarthy; Brian Thompson, Conor McGoldrick, Darrragh Coakley; Joe Cooper, Mark Kelleher; Oisín O’Shea, Sam O’Driscoll, David Casey; Keelan McCarthy, Graham Moynihan, Jack Sheehan. Subs: Colm Quigley for K McCarthy (ht), Seamus Lordan for C McGoldrick (42), Joe Kelleher for K Cooper (53).
Referee: John Ryan (Macroom).