There is an old saying in GAA that says ‘Goals win Games’ and this certainly rang through on this highly entertaining encounter on Monday evening. Following a day of uncertainty about the location of the final, the Under 14s of Laune Rangers and Austin Stacks met in Currow to decide the fate of the Central League Division 1 for 2015. These clubs met in the 2014 final, but only a handful of players on each side returned as eligible this year. This game was Laune Rangers’ fourth major final at this age grade this year, having lost the County Division 1 Final and the County & Regional Féile Finals in recent months while Austin Stacks represented Kerry in Féile Peil na nÓg after winning the Féile Ciarraí ‘B’ competition.Laune Rangers took an early lead and had a three point advantage after 6 minutes (by 4 points to 1) but Stacks recouped and were level by the 9th minute – Ronan O’Shea (free), Shane Doona (2) and Gearoid Hassett scoring for Rangers while Conor Myers (3, 1 free) and Joe Bastible did the honours for the Rockies. Stacks took the lead themselves following sustained pressure and pointed frees from Sean Quilter (2) as well as points from Conor Myers and Padraic Linnane were met with the solitary point from Gearoid Hassett in the period to lead by 0-8 to 0-5 after 18 minutes. A fantastic pointed free by Rangers’ Roan Moriarty & a gem from play by Shane Doona reduced the deficit to the minimum with 10 minutes to play in the half. However, goals would give Austin Stacks the advantage before half time, and Joe Bastible and Padraic Linnane netted in quick succession before Ronan O’Shea found the net in reply for Rangers in superb style following an excellent pass from Eoin Clifford. Conor Myers pointed two frees for the Rockies to put his side ahead by six points at the break. The score at Half Time: Laune Rangers 1-7, Austin Stacks 2-10.
Laune Rangers shot out of the traps in the early exchanges of the second half, and could have been level very quickly if the rules for older age groups applied, as Gearoid Hassett was hauled down inside the square by Stacks’ goalkeeper David Oba – an act that earned the Tralee man a black card. However, there are no penalties awarded at Under 14 level and a 13 metre free had to suffice for Rangers’ Shane Doona. Two minutes later provided a case of déjà vu as yet another foul inside the Stacks penalty area saw another free awarded, which Doona duly dispatched. Two points from play for Rangers through Roan Moriarty and Eoin Clifford put just two points between the sides but another sucker punch was delivered by Austin Stacks as they broke down the field to strike for their third goal, which was finished by Liam Nolan to stretch out to a 3-10 to 1-11 lead. Laune Rangers rallied again though, and Eoin Clifford was on the end of a high ball to fist the ball to the net before a Shane Doona brace levelled the game for the Rangers on the 40th minute.
Austin Stacks dug in their heels again and points from Colin Myers (free), Shane Quilter (free) & Liam Nolan put a clear goal between the sides at 3-13 to 2-13. Austin Stacks’ 4th goal through Joe Bastible was sandwiched by points by Rangers’ Ronan O’Shea and Eoin Clifford to leave four points between the sides with 10 minutes to play, but the Launesiders search for parity left them exposed at the back for the Rockies to put some gloss on the scoreboard. Sean Quilter (free) and Liam Nolan pointed before Conor Myers put the final nail in the coffin for Stacks’ 5th goal.
So, Laune Rangers fell at the final hurdle yet again as they lost a 4th final this year. However, it's the sign of a good team to reach 4 major finals and just lacked the slice of luck required to get over the line. There was certainly not 9 points between the sides on the balance of play and the 5-15 to 2-15 scoreline would be more truly analysed by the 3 scores or ‘kicks of a ball’ that separated the sides. The size advantage of ‘the Rock’ was distinct & midfielder Sean Quilter put in a dominant performance including 4 frees. The contribution of 1-7 by Conor Myers was outstanding as was that of flying wing back Padraic Linnane who pitched in with 1-1. On Rangers side, the forwards had many danger players and Shane Doona, Gearoid Hassett and Eoin Clifford scored 2-11 between them. Gabriel Griffin deserves special mention for his display at full back, as he kept the Stacks attack at bay for huge parts of the game to keep his side in with a chance until near the end. The Official Man of the Match was awarded to Austin Stacks midfielder Leon Shalemba however.
Laune Rangers: Ronan Fitzpatrick, Conor Burke, Gabriel Griffin, Rory O’Connor, Peadar Foley, David Mangan, Timmy O’Shea, Roan Moriarty (0-2, 1f), James Hurley, Barry O’Connor, Shane Doona (0-7, 2f), Ronan O’Shea (1-2, 2f), Gearoid Hassett (0-2), Jack Evans, Eoin Cliford (1-2). Subs used: Matthew Leslie, Erwin Brennan, Dean Callan
Austin Stacks: David Oba, David Burke, Danny Draghici, Adam Curran, Eoghan Carroll, Dara Barry Walsh, Padraic Linnane (1-1), Sean Quilter (0-4f), Leon Shalemba, James Fernane, Daniel O’Rourke, Jordan Barry, Liam Nolan (1-2), Conor Myers (1-7, 3f), Joe Bastible (2-1).