MINOR FOOTBALL Our minors are through to the final of the minor championship, where they will meet Rathnew. This final had traditionally been played as a curtain-raiser to the county senior final but this practice seems, unfortunately, to have fallen into abeyance. This seems to be due to administrative hiccups rather than a deliberate policy. Our players, even though they realise that they would be at a distinct disadvantage support-wise, would love to play on county final day. The chance to display ones wares to the maximum number of spectators is a legitimate and fully understandable desire on the part of players. However, there are whispers abroad that this year's minor championship is to be postponed – on the basis of what can only be described as extremely tenuous grounds – meaning that for the third time in the last four years Eire Og have been denied the chance to perform on this stage.
LADIES FOOTBALL Our ladies senior championship fell foul of a Valleymount team that did not lack footballing skills and were all-round much stronger physically than Eire Og. Mentor Seamus Ahern who had seen Valleymount in action in the league had predicted that they would be very strong championship contenders. His forecast was prevented from coming to fruition by international soccer player Aine O’Gorman: she scored 4-3 for Bray in their 4-10 win over Valleymount in the final.
As to the semi-final game, the Eire Og ladies were slow to get going; they seemed to be possessed of an uncharacteristic lethargy, not really that surprising when one considers their 40+ miles drive to the Stratford pitch. Valleymount took full advantage of our sluggishness and were soon notching up the scores. Having played against the wind and the hill in the first half we were only 5 points in arrears at the break. Not an insurmountable lead, we thought. However, a Valleymount goal shortly after the resumption more or less sealed Eire Og's fate. Try as they might thereafter they could not eat into their opponents’ lead.
A disappointing end to what had been quite an enjoyable season. We live in the hope that “go mbeidh la eile ag an bPaorach”. The focus now switches to the 6-10 year old girls who train on Thursday nights in the Eire Og grounds.
BON VOYAGE to Lorna Fusciardi who is going to England to further her studies. Lorna is one of the club's more outstanding players and was a key member of the Wicklow junior team that came within an ace of being in last Sunday's All-Ireland. Wicklow at one stage had a 9 point lead over Louth in the quarter-final and seemed to be on the road to victory. However, Louth had other ideas and fought back to win in the last minute.
JUNIOR FOOTBALL The label ‘Junior C Championship’ carries intimations of thirty has-beens with potted bellies plodding about in comical contortion in pursuit of an O’Neill's size 5. This image is totally at variance with the reality, as was clearly illustrated by Eire Og's first two games in the competition. The teams are for the most part peopled by younger players, minors and early 20s, with a greater or lesser number of cooler heads to curb their youthful excesses. Admittedly, some teams have a sprinkling of older players who mightn’t have spent too much time on the training ground and could have shed a little of their avoir-du-poids. In most cases these players compensate for any such disadvantages by a skill and awareness accumulated over years of experience.
The Rathnew game was a very exciting one; too exciting at times, with the play proceeding in rapid exchange of ends. It lacked nothing in athleticism or skill and ended in what seems to have become almost de rigeur for Eire Og matches: Eire Og in a nail-consuming defence of a slim lead.
Overall Eire Og was the superior team but because of inaccurate shooting and some wonderful saves from the Rathnew goalie we failed to reflect this on the scoreboard. Indeed, even though many goal-scoring opportunities presented themselves we despaired of our forwards ever finding the net. The vital goal did eventually arrive through the agency of a cleverly directed ball from the boot of little Sam Thompson.
There were some fine performances from Eire Og players, especially from Brian O'Sullivan at left-half back who seemed top collect every ball that came his way and, equally as important, offloaded them with accuracy, and from Rory Doyle at right-half forward, whose darting runs raised pulses and had the Rathnew defence at sixes-and-sevens. Duel players Peter Keane at left-half forward and Leon Browne in the centre of the field made important contributions and Eoin O’Neill was a steadying influence at centre back.
COMHGAIRDEACHAS to Paddy Delaney on winning the All-Ireland football VIP week-end. All in the club were at one in the opinion that there could not have been a more deserving winner. Paddy is a regular visitor to Pairc an Chrocaigh during the championship and he and his family are loyal supporters of the club and its Lotto. Ta suil againn gur bhain se an-taitneamh as an ocaid. We hope that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Unfortunately there was one element which the sponsors of his foray into luxury could not include in the package: the inclusion of his beloved Laois among the contestants! But then, one can’t have everything.