lee Strand U-14 County Football League – Div. 3. Final (written by Mark Healy)
Laune Rangers: 1-11
Laune Rangers U-14 proved victorious in the County League decider in Beaufort on Wednesday evening last on a scoreline of 1-11 to 2-06 after a hard fought, closely contested encounter.
Milltown/Castlemaine started the game the better and showed their intent from the throw-in with the defeat to the same opposition in the corresponding League fixture clearly spurring on the team. The long ball tactic was being employed and with primary possession being won from midfield this tactic was starting to pay off. The opening 10 minutes was all Milltown/Castlemaine and a sustained period of pressure where the Laune Rangers side had their backs to the wall resulted in the opening 3 points of the game, 2 from play and 1 from a free after a defensive foul. During this period both sets of teams were creating chances but more often than not the last kick went astray which left both sets of forwards rueing their wides and highlighting the effect the occasion was playing in matters. The opening score for the Killorglin side came from reliable full forward, Patrick Daly who ended the half with 1-01, after some fine build up play involving the wing forwards.
Laune Rangers, after weathering the initial Milltown dominance and County Final nerves, began to come to terms with the occasion and task ahead of them and started to play themselves into the game. Darragh O’Sullivan, at number 3, along with his full back line colleagues of Tadhg Sullivan and Con Sheehan had their hands full with a dangerous full forward and lively corner men but from the sterling work being done in defensive and quick delivery it provided the platform for their forwards to deliver. The half back line was marshalled well by Jack Cox and Pierce Tyther throughout and both men made themselves available during the game and tidied up the breaking ball to keep their opposition on the back foot. As the half progressed both Jamie and Fiachra Clifford were beginning to get their hands on the ball and starting to cause problems, Jesse McCormack was again to the fore with some strong running and well taken scores.
This first half saw chances created at either end that if converted could have changed the outlook for both sides with Milltown/Castlemaine rattling the cross bar and forcing a great save from keeper Fionan O Sullivan, who has really grown in to the role. The Killorglin side for their part were disallowed a well taken goal from corner forward Patrick Carey after it was adjudged to have been a square ball and had points come out the wrong side of the posts on a number of occasions after some quality build up play.
The half was played in the true spirit of football with some great passing from the boot and tenacious defending which resulted in a high foul count on both sides but served to highlight the commitment from both sides with neither side giving an inch.
The first half ended with a Patrick Daly goal being the difference between the sides on a scoreline of 1-05 to 0-05 in favour of Laune Rangers.
The second half started in the worst possible fashion after a slick passing move from the throw in saw Milltown/Castlemaine capitalise with a well taken goal to level the game which blew the contest wide open and upped the anty for both sides with a full half left to play. Credit to both teams as they drove forward at every opportunity in search of the vital scores to get them the win and both teams were playing a lovely brand of football and were creating chances.
The Milltown/Castlemaine side will rue missed scoring opportunities from frees conceded by the Laune Rangers defensive lines after some robust defending from Tiernan Clifford and Darragh Sullivan which if converted could have kept the Milltown/Castlemaine men in touch. They say that scores win games but the defensive exploits from Neil O Brien, Pierce Tyther and Jack Cox along with Cathal Doyle highlighted the commitment to the cause and also how effective the hand block can be when used to good effect.
The conditions during this half changed dramatically and the rain falling was a telling factor in a number of missed scoring opportunities with underfoot conditions deteriorating and the relentless pressure being felt by both sides back lines coupled with the conditions resulted in a number of stray passes being made in an effort to clear the lines by the backs which allowed opportunities to be created. The Killorglin side seemed to capitalise the most from these clearances with the main scoring threat in this second period coming from Jesse McCormack who was impressive throughout and the lightening quick centre forward Jamie Clifford both men finishing the half with 2 points from play and a number of assists. John Francis O Grady entered the fray late in the game at corner forward and was impressive in his cameo, showing well for the ball and linking the play well.
The last 5 minutes of the game proved a nervy affair with Milltown/Castlemaine surging forward in search of equalising scores and to their credit managed to create scoring opportunities but with the O’Neills resembling a bar of soap due to the constant drizzle it was hard to convert these chances. The Killorglin side held their nerve and the final score of the half came from Fiachra Clifford after some great link play from substitute Cian Shea and this proved to be the insurance point for the Killorglin side who went on to claim the league final trophy on a score line of 1-11 to 2-06.
The game as a whole was a very entertaining encounter with both sides giving their all throughout, the Laune Rangers team played well from 1 to 17 at different stages of the game but the effort shown by Captain Tiernan Clifford, centre forward Jamie Clifford and full back and keeper to keep the score line so tight during such sustained periods of pressure were telling factors. The trophy was presented by Coiste na nÓg PRO Sinead Pigott to a delighted team captain Tiernan Clifford.
Congratulations to the whole squad who have all played their part in getting the team to the Final and achieving this success and must now keep together and drive on for the rest of the year and thank you to the large crowd that turned out to follow the team, as always your support is appreciated.
Team: Fionan O Sullivan, Tadhg O Sullivan, Darragh O Sullivan, Con Sheehan, Jack Cox, Tiernan Clifford, Pierce Tyther, Cathal Doyle, Neil O Brien, Jesse McCormack, Conor Flynn, Fiachra Clifford, Cian O Shea, Keelin Houlihan, Patrick Carey. SUBS: Darragh O Shea, Cathal Joy, Jamie Brosnan, Ethan Costello, Podge Ahern, Jamie Clifford, Patrick Daly, Christian Fleming, Dylan Costello.