BY JOHN O’SHEA
DANIEL Goulding is proving that class really is permanent. The former All-Ireland winning Cork footballer was recently voted the Muskerry GAA/Auld Triangle Supreme Sports Award winner at the division’s gala awards night, recognition that he is still a force on the football field.
The Éire Óg man has enjoyed a very productive time over the past 12 months, as his club secured the 2019 premier intermediate football championship title.
That success has typified the sort of progress which has been made out in Ovens over the past decade or so.
Éire Óg were Mid Cork and Cork junior champions in 2008, Cork intermediate winners in 2014, and now they have added the Cork premier intermediate crown to that list.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Goulding reflected on the journey that his club have been on.
‘When I started playing junior with Éire Óg at around 16 or 17 years old, we hadn’t won a game in God knows how long,’ he said.
‘To go from there to being up senior football and winning three counties in ten years, it is a huge achievement for everyone in the club really.
‘It starts at underage and people putting in all the effort there to get the players through. The administrative side, it is a huge club now to manage. We have got brilliant facilities. Then on the playing side, you have got lots of committed players there.
‘When you step back and look at it, to win three counties in ten years with a group of players is a very humbling thing to be apart of and a great experience.’
Goulding adds: ‘When I started off playing with Éire Óg, it was a dream to win a county. We won the junior, then it was a dream to win the intermediate. Senior was on the back of my mind and other lads’ minds, so it’s a really special feeling to know you’ve jumped the three grades and into senior football.
‘To do it with your close friends and fellas you have trained with all of your life it is really special.’
Éire Óg have been drawn Group 2 in the new Senior A Football Championship alongside Kiskeam, Mallow and Bantry Blues. Their first game is against Bantry on Saturday, April 11th in Ballingeary at 6pm.
Goulding is excited by what challenges lie ahead for him and his teammates as they prepare for senior football.
‘If you look at it, our PIFC title winning team was backboned by that minor team (2017 Éire Óg Premier 1 title). They were probably the driving force behind winning this county. They are just a bundle of energy and are all great athletes with great enthusiasm,’ he explained’
‘Then you got Joe Cooper back who came on, he is still playing minor and you have Hugh Murphy next year, so it is all of the hard work and coaching that is going on at underage. If you can get two, three players through every year, that will keep the adult side going. ‘We have had a strong enough junior team for the last couple of years as well. Look, it’s down to hard work from everyone, players, management, the volunteers, everyone. It is a huge effort.’
On the current state of the Cork senior football team, another Éire Óg man is making a return to the fold in Ciarán Sheehan, who has bolstered the options of the Rebels, and Goulding knows better thaan most how good Sheehan is.–
Generally, Goulding is hopeful for what the decade ahead could potentially offer for Cork football. ‘It looks to have turned a corner. The big thing first was, in fairness to everyone involved, they realised there was an issue there,’ Goulding said.
‘Once everyone realised the issue was there, putting in measures to fix it started. The success has happened quickly which is great.
‘The U20s and minors were two brilliant teams (last year). They played brilliant football and were playing very athletic, attacking football. The seniors got into the Super 8s which was a huge achievement. Overall that gives you great encouragement for fellas that want to play football in Cork at underage level.
‘The big thing now is to get into the senior championship this year and get promoted from Division 3. The players are definitely there. I think the management have a good grasp of their panel and I would be very hopeful for Cork football going forward, that we can get back up to the heights we were at about ten years ago.’
As Cork look to kick on at inter-county level, Éire Óg will hope to add another chapter of solid progress to their story in 2020, with Goulding fully determined to make a contribution to that cause.