It was a tight battle in Killeen in the Central Region Semi Final between Na Gaeil & Laune Rangers on Monday evening. Scores were at a premium as both defences were on top, and scores were level at 0-1 each on the quarter mark. The second quarter showed glimpses of some attacking intent from both teams and a final kick of the half free by Dara Devine for Na Gaeil gave the home side a narrow lead - after scores by Fiachra Clifford & Daire Cleary (Rangers), and Dara Devine & Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil) had scores level. The Half Time score:- Na Gaeil 0-4, Laune Rangers 0-3.
Laune Rangers were much the better side in the first period of extra time. Daire Cleary & Fiachra Clifford gave the visitors a two point lead, but this was reduced to the minimum before the interval when Diarmuid O’Connor pointed a free. The two point margin was restored early in the final period when Daire Cleary pointed a free – the first placed ball score for the visitors – but Dylan Burns kicked an excellent point to once again put a singular score between the sides with a minute to play. Some late goalmouth drama gave Na Gaeil two chances to snatch the win, but the ball was cleared both times & Rangers held on for the win. Full Time Score (aet):- Na Gaeil 0-8, Laune Rangers 0-9.
Seventeen scores in 80 minutes of play would not usually suggest a high quality of game but on this occasion, the tight marking and mental toughness shown by both sides provided for an enthralling contest. Dara Devine, Rory Murphy, and especially Diarmuid O’Connor excelled for Na Gaeil, but they were restricted to four points from play due to some excellent defending from the Rangers backs – with Sean Arthurs and Kevin Fitzpatrick excelling especially in the latter stages with the game in the melting pot. Daire Cleary played well in the inside forward line and his three points with limited possession was a solid return, but the stand out player from first minute to last was Fiachra Clifford, who was the fulcrum of every Rangers attack and contributed some important scores when needed most.
Laune Rangers now move on to play Dingle in the Central Region Divison One final, which is scheduled to take place next week – the weekend of 2/3/4 May.
Na Gaeil Team: Sean Duggan, Stephen Ryan, Tim Kelliher, Damien Burke, Patrick Roche, Fergal Barry, Rory Murphy, Ryan O’Neill, Dara Devine (c) (0-4), Declan Horgan, Tadhg Lynch, Aaron Dewy, Dylan Burns (0-1), Diarmuid O’Connor (0-3), David Fitzgerald. Sub: Conor Hayes for Dewy.
Laune Rangers Team: Padraig Ahern, Oisin Daly, Connor Murphy, Darragh O’Shea, Liam Croke, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Darragh O’Sullivan, Daragh O’Connor, Cian O’Shea (0-1), Fiachra Clifford (0-3), Eoin O’Sullivan (0-2), Mark O’Connor, Patrick Carey, Daire Cleary (0-3). Subs used: Kealan Houlihan for M O’Connor, Shane Doona for D O’Connor (reintroduced in extra time), David Mangan for P Carey, P Carey for Doona.