Nobody left Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Tuesday evening feeling shortchanged, after the County Under 16 League Division 1 Final served up a classic between Laune Rangers and Cordal/Scartaglin.
Cordal/Scart got off to the perfect start when they scored a goal with the first play of the game – Sean O’Connell blazing through from midfield to find the net after just 16 seconds. Daragh O’Connor opened Rangers account with a point before it was cancelled out by Cordal/Scart’s Joseph Sheehy. Mark O’Connor scored an excellent point for Rangers before Cordal/Scart scored their second goal through Sean Horan in the 7th minute. Laune Rangers began to settle into the game though, and points from Roan Moriarty, Shane Doona and Dáire Cleary (2, 1f) were met with an Edward Horan free to see Cordal/Scartaglin ahead by 2-2 to 0-6 after fifteen minutes.
Cordal/Scart added their third goal as Adam Fallon pressured Dylan Fitzgerald in the Rangers goal and got his fist to a high ball – akin to the Paul Geaney goal against Dublin recently. However, Rangers found their rhythm and dominated the second quarter. Dáire Cleary pointed a free before Roan Moriarty scored Rangers first goal following a flowing team move. Shane Doona flashed the ball over the crossbar for a point as Rangers put some excellent passing together, while Daragh O’Connor came oh-so close to a goal when Cordal/Scart ‘keeper Conor Mitchell pulled off a super save to force a 45. Laune Rangers continued on this vein of form, and Dáire Cleary pointed a free before being hauled down en route to goal and awarded a penalty. Roan Moriarty made no mistake and put the ball to Mitchell’s right corner. Cordal/Scart’s next shot at goal was blocked down by Oisin Daly, and swift and accurate passing through Ronan O’Shea, Eoin O’Sullivan and Daragh O’Connor put Shane Doona in space within seconds, and the wing forward finished excellently to the net for his side’s third goal. A final Shay Walsh point for Cordal/Scartaglin saw Rangers ahead by six at the break. The Half Time score:- Laune Rangers 3-9, Cordal/Scartaglin 3-3.
Cordal/Scart opened the second half much like they did the first, as points through Edward Horan (free), Shay Walsh (free), & Adam Fallon halved the deficit. Mark O’Connor (free) and Roan Moriarty pointed for Rangers, but the Killorglin men lost Sean Arthurs to a black card in the 42nd minute. With fifteen minutes to play, Rangers led by 3-11 to 3-6.
Horans Edward & Sean and Shay Walsh pointed to bring their side to within two points, but Laune Ranger’s were awarded another penalty in the 50th minute when Roan Moriarty was brought down in an early tackle. Moriarty stepped up again and beat the goalkeeper once more, switching to the opposite corner for his hat-trick goal. Laune Rangers were now at full flow again, and substitute Gearoid Hassett produced a moment of magic to turn his marker and pass the ball to the back of the net. Rangers now led by 8 points with seven minutes to play.
Laune Rangers midfielder Kevin Fitzpatrick moved to full back following an injury to Conor Murphy, but Eoin O’Sullivan took the midfield battle by the scruff of the neck in the latter stages and fielded three consecutive high balls from opposition kick out, which really deflated the opposition. Daragh O’Connor added a point for Rangers before Cordal/Scart scored their fourth goal when Shay Walsh put the finishing touch to a counter attack following an interception. Gearoid Hassett had his shot saved at point blank range to deny him a second goal, but Eoin Evans and Dáire Cleary (free) added points before Laune Rangers put the proverbial icing on the cake with a sixth goal as Daragh O’Connor smashed the ball to the top corner. Full Time score:- Laune Rangers 6-14, Cordal/Scartaglin 4-9.
This was a fantastic win for this group of players, not to mention the club as a whole who have been deprived of top level success in recent years. The future is definitely bright on Laune side!
Cordal/Scartaglin’s midfield quartet of Horan twins Edward & Sean, Sean O’Connell and Shay Walsh were the heartbeat of their side on the day, contributing 3-7 of their team’s 4-9 total. Sean Walsh in particular dominated the aerial battle at midfield in the opening half before Rangers changed up their kick out tactic, and the eleven point difference on the scoreboard was somewhat harsh in the end as there was only two between the sides with ten minutes to play and Cordal/Scart had kicked a number of wides in the game.
It would be unfair to pick a man of the match on the Rangers side as every player stepped up to the challenge on the day. Therefore it’s only fair to give them all a mention:-
Goalkeeper & Defence:
The early onslaught was a setback to the game plan in the opening half but to their credit, the defence didn’t panic and settled into the game, turning over possession and setting up the counter-attack as the game progressed. Dylan Fitzgerald recovered from the concession of the early goals, and by the end was clearing out from defence very well. Oisin Daly, Conor Murphy and Evan Madden grew into the game to put in season defining performances. James Hurley was conceding height and mass to his marker but did well, turning the ball over a number of times. Liam Croke commanded the middle of his line while Sean Arthurs was unlucky to receive what seemed a harsh black card after putting in a solid effort. Ronan O’Shea found himself covering back regularly too and didn’t allow his lesser stature stop him from cleaning up at the back when required
This was always going to be a tough battle for the Rangers duo of Kevin Fitzpatrick and Eoin O’Sullivan, with the afore mentioned midfield of Sean Walsh and Sean O’Connell to contend with, but as the game progressed and the Rangers forwards gained momentum, Fitzpatrick and especially O’Sullivan dominated the last quarter to stop any late comeback by Cordal/Scartaglin.
This was quite simply a phenomenal performance from the forward unit. Not afraid to help out in defence throughout, the five chief forwards were unplayable and scored all of Laune Rangers scores between them. Mark O’Connor sacrificed his own attacking game at times to help out at midfield, but scored one particularly great point early on and set up a number of scores thereafter. Roan Moriarty finished with 3-2 including two excellent penalties. Meanwhile, the half forward line of Daragh O’Connor (1-2), Shane Doona (1-2) and captain Dáire Cleary (0-5) scored a huge chunk of Laune Rangers’ scores, and could have scored more with all three coming close to hitting the net again while Cleary was brought down for the first penalty.
David Mangan came on for his first appearance of the season, having missed out all year through injury. There was no sign of rustiness though, as he fell in seamlessly to the defensive effort. Gearoid Hassett was electric when introduced, scoring a marvelous goal near the end to secure the game. Eoin Clifford was introduced and defended well for the final minutes, while Eoin Evans scored a well taken point at a vital time after Cordal/Scart’s last goal. Cormac Doyle was introduced in the final minutes as another body in defence, but was not forced into action.
It's only fair to credit the management who had the team in fantastic shape and managed them excellently on the night. Congratulations to James Sheehan and his management team of John Sheehan, Pa Sheehan, and Tim Cronin.
Laune Rangers: Dylan Fitzgerald, Oisin Daly, Conor Murphy, Evan Madden, James Hurley, Liam Croke, Sean Arthurs, Eoin O’Sullivan, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Shane Doona (1-2), Dáire Cleary (c) (0-5), Daragh O’Connor (1-2), Mark O’Connor (0-2), Roan Moriarty (3-2), Ronan O’Shea. Subs used: David Mangan, Gearoid Hassett (1-0), Eoin Clifford, Eoin Evans (0-1), Cormac Doyle. Panel: Jack Evans, Ronan Fitzpatrick, Peadar Foley, Kieran Whittleton, Erwin Brennan.
Cordal/Scartaglin: Conor Mitchell, Sean Breathnach, Denis O’Mahony, Padraig O’Connor, Dylan O’Donoghue, Edward Horan (0-3), Giles O’Connor, Sean Horan (c) (1-1), Sean O’Connell (1-0), Mark O’Donoghue, Joseph Sheehy (0-1), Shay Walsh (1-3),Jack Flynn, Cathal O’Donoghue, Adam Fallon (1-1). Sub used: Redmond Horan. Panel: Donnacha Daly, Shane McEnery, DJ Fealey, Colin Kerins, Conor Kerins, Callum Baker, Oisin Collins, Diarmuid Mitchell, Sean O’Connor, Sean O’Sullivan, Conor Casey.