Laune Rangers completed the hat-trick of Mid Kerry Bord na nÓg titles on Sunday as the Under 16 team defeated Milltown/Castlemaine to follow up the successes of the Under 12s and Under 14s in 2016. Of course, it was not this team’s first trophy of the year, as they had previously won the County Division One title in September.
Milltown/Castlemaine were the sharper team at the beginning, and Dylan O’Neill capitalized on a defensive mix up from a kickout to break through and find the net, giving his side a two point lead after Dáire Cleary had pointed earlier. Daragh O’Connor got a point back for Rangers before a moment of magic from Dáire Cleary gave his side the lead. The forward picked up the ball on the right flank before turning his marker and weaving his way through the defence and placed the ball excellently to the net from a difficult angle. After 15 minutes, Laune Rangers led by 1-2 to 1-0. Rangers could have been another couple of goals ahead as Cleary’s first attempt of the game sneaked wide just outside the post, while Roan Moriarty got his fist to a long ball only to see the ball hit the side netting.
Milltown/Castlemaine took a grip on the contest in the second quarter and scored four points unanswered through Niall Sertutxa (free), Darragh Poff, John Dennehy & Dylan O’Neill before Laune Rangers regained their composure to themselves score three unanswered before the break and head to the dressing rooms with slenderest of leads. The score at Half Time:- Laune Rangers 1-5, Milltown/Castlemaine 1-4.
Points were traded between Dylan O’Neill and Mark O’Connor in the early stages of the second half before Rangers scored three goals in as many minutes to grab control of the contest. Kevin Fitzpatrick made use of the slight wind advantage to send a long pass into the square, which was too long and into the outstretched hands of the Milltown goalkeeper CJ Cronin. However, the movement of the ball while in the air got the better of the goalkeeper and it slipped out of his hands into the path of the inrushing Roan Moriarty who reached the loose ball first to tap it into an empty net. This was followed shortly by a Dáire Cleary goal from 30 metres out as what seemed to be an attempt at a point dropped just under the bar into the net. The 4th Rangers goal was much similar to the infamous Kieran Donaghy goal from the 2014 All Ireland Final, as full forward Roan Moriarty intercepted a quick kickout and smashed the ball to the net. This gave Laune Rangers a ten point lead at 4-6 to 1-5 with a quarter to play.
Milltown/Castlemaine’s Sean Hogan was issued a red card (2nd yellow) and Ranger’s goalkeeper Jack Evans received a black card after a hot tempered incident involving a number of players. Dylan O’Neill pointed a free for Milltown/Castlemaine before Dáire Cleary and Daragh O’Connor both pointed – the latter a goal chance that was kicked slightly too hard and glanced over the bar. Laune Rangers substitute Cormac Doyle received a red card late on before Milltown/Castlemaine scored a final goal in injury time through Dylan O’Neill (his second) to reduce the deficit. However, the contest was over and once Rangers cleared their lines one final time, the referee blew the final whistle to end the game. Full Time score:- Laune Rangers 4-8, Milltown/Castlemaine 2-6.
The final score did not do justice to the losing side as the balance of play was much more even in reality. John Dennehy was a bundle of energy around the field and put in a big performance, while Dylan O’Neill stood out for his side with an excellent contribution of 2-3. Laune Rangers were still good enough value for the win however, as Dáire Cleary also scored 2-3 (with a somewhat fortunate second goal) and Roan Moriarty bagged a brace of goals also. Eoin O’Sullivan was strong throughout, but it was the performance of Conor Murphy at fullback that stood out, minding his own goal with a huge effort.
Laune Rangers: Jack Evans, Oisin Daly, Conor Murphy, Evan Madden, Sean Arthurs, Liam Croke, James Hurley, Kevin Fitzpatrick, David Mangan, Eoin O’Sullivan (0-1), Dáire Cleary (2-3), Daragh O’Connor (0-2), Mark O’Connor (0-2), Roan Moriarty (2-0), Shane Doona. Subs: Ronan O’Shea, Cormac Doyle, Gabriel Griffin, Ronan Fitzpatrick, Eoin Clifford, Peadar Foley. Squad: Sean Cleary, Rory O’Connor, Kieran Whittleton, Matthew Leslie.
Milltown/Castlemaine: CJ Cronin, Nicky Loughnane, Roan Hegarty, Seamus Nagle, Patrick A O’Connor, Aaron O’Brien, Martin Foley, Killian Kerins, David Leane, John Dennehy (0-1), Dylan O’Neill (2-3), Niall Sertutxa (0-1), Oisin Bolger, Sean Hogan, Darragh Poff (0-1). Panel: Linus Burke, Eugene McCarthy, Oisin O’Connor, Jack Griffin, Adam Lenihan, Adam Clarke.