By Jason O'Connor at Beaufort
Wednesday January 18 2012
FOR a trophy that looked like it would never go beyond Killorglin for much of its recent history, the Michael O'Connor Cup will reside in another parish it has not seen in a long time as Glenbeigh/Glencar followed Milltown/Castlemaine and Keel in ending their own long wait for a Mid Kerry Senior title after 36 years.
The outcome was in the balance, however, right until the closing stages with the game turning on two incidents in the space of five minutes. First, Pa Joy blasted wide for Laune Rangers in the 52nd minute when a cast-iron goal looked more likely
Five minutes later Glenbeigh substitute Kieran Courtney forced the ball into the net giving his side a four-point cushion that their opponents could only halve by the final whistle.
The final had been overshadowed in advance by the circumstances in which Laune Rangers had advanced to the final but the competition regained some of its shine with a keenly fought contest that ebbed and flowed throughout.
The duel between UCC team mates and Kerry prospects, Gavan O'Grady and Peter Crowley, was one of the features of the game, which was won by O'Grady on the day. As Darran O'Sullivan had a quiet game by his own high standards, Raymond O'Connor gladly stepped into the void with a man-of-the-match performance at midfield.
An early example of Glenbeigh/Glencar's intent came as early as the sixth minute when the hard working Danny O'sullivan did well to intercept a loose pass out of defence forcing a foul which saw O'grady convert the resulting free. O'grady scored his side's opening four points, three coming from frees, before Raymond O'Connor powered over from 40 metres in the 28th minute to put his side in front for the first time at 0-5 to 0-4.
Seamie Foley ensured the teams would be level at the break in an opening half that saw Laune Rangers look the more likely to score despite Glenbeigh/Glencar dominating the possession stakes. Mike Frank Russell had scored the opening two points inside the first five minutes, but Rangers' other two points in the half could easily have been goals as Pa Joy gave a prelude to his miss in the final 10 minutes with the young forward pointing good goal chances in the 13th and 21st minutes respectively.
Joy set Mike Frank up for the first score after the restart yet Glenbeigh/Glencar struck the next three points through two O'Connor frees and a Danny O'Sullivan point. The game was level again by the three-quarter mark at eight points a piece thanks to two more Russell frees with Colin McGillicuddy Team captain — and man-of-the-match — Raymond O'Connor lifts the O'Connor Cup after Glenbeigh/Glencar defeated Laune Rangers in the Mid Kerry Senior Championship Final in Beaufort on Saturday brave to catching a dangerous dropped in free in the meantime.
O'Connor put Glenbeigh/Glencar back in front with ten minutes left but their hearts skipped a beat two minutes later when Pa Joy with a score at his mercy amazingly blasted the ball wide at the entrance end in Beaufort. Jason McKenna found O'Connor to put Glenbeigh/Glencar back in front by two with Russell's sixth point making it a one point game with five minutes left.
Then came the score they will be celebrated for a long time in the two villages, Gavan O'Grady's 57th minute free was well caught by O'Connor whose shot was subsequently well parried by Tony Lyons. However, Rangers could do nothing about the rebound from the recently introduced Courtney as he raised the green flag which put his side 1-10 to 0-9 ahead.
Both Joy and Russell, with point number seven, tried to make amends but it was too little too late as the final whistle sounded to wild scenes of celebration from the Glenbeigh/Glencar contingent.
In ending their 36-year wait they have truly won their long overdue title in style with superb victories not only over Rangers, but also high flying Milltown/Castlemaine as well. They restored dignity to the competition after recent events – not that those was their fault, but this could well be the shot in the arm the club needs to make the breakthrough at county level in the near future.
GLENBEIGH/GLENCAR: Peter O'Sullivan, Jeremiah Hoare, Micheal Walsh, Kieran Doyle, Pa Kilkenny, Fergal Griffin, Bernard Murphy, Raymond O'Connor (0-5, 3f), Colin McGillicuddy, Danny O'Sullivan (01), Darran O'Sullivan, Chris O'Sullivan, Jason McKenna, Gavan O'Grady (0-4, 3f), Barry Houlihan, Kieran Courtney (1-0) for C O'Sullivan, Rory O'Connor for B Houlihan.
LAUNE RANGERS: Tony Lyons, Kieran Crowley, Peter Crowley, Cormac Johnston, Pa Sheehan, Ciaran Doona, Jeremy O'Callaghan, Tom McGillycuddy, Shane McSweeney, Maurice Foley, Liam Hassett, Pa Joy (0-3), Mike Frank Russell (0-7, 5f), Geoffrey Mahony, Seamie Foley (01) Ryan Keane for Mahony, Colin O'Dwyer for S Foley.
REFEREE: Pádraig O'Sullivan (Firies)