Laune Rangers 6-12, Na Gaeil 5-14
Laune Rangers hosted Na Gaeil for the first round of this year’s Central Region Minor competition, but with the Leaving Certificate still ongoing for a number of players, & others unavailable through injury or holidays, the game was played at 13 a side.
The reduced numbers on each side allowed for an expansive game and scores would be more frequent as a result. By Half Time, Na Gaeil led by a point having scored 3-6 to Laune Rangers 2-8. Rangers’ goals both came from Cian O’Shea at the shortest of distances having been set up by Patrick Daly for one and Daragh O’Connor the other. O’Shea also added two points (one free), with the rest coming from Kealan Houlihan, Dáire Cleary (2), Daragh O’Connor (2), & Darragh O’Sullivan.
Na Gaeil dominated the start of the second half and, apart from a great point from defender Patrick Carey, Na Gaeil stretched ahead with 1-3 scored to go six points ahead by the 42nd minute with the 4th goal also bringing with it an injury to Rangers midfielder John Francis O’Grady – leaving a threadbare team to fight out the final 20 minutes. Rangers clawed themselves back again though, and when defender Oisin Daly got forward and was chopped down inside the square, a penalty was awarded to the home side. Oisin left the ball to his older brother Patrick, & the forward made no mistake with the finish. Na Gaeil responded well and pointed twice more to leave them ahead by 4-11 to 3-9 with a quarter hour to play.
The scoring was far from over though, with tired bodies leaving space for those fast enough to capitalize on it. Patrick Carey added his second point – a great strike from distance – to give Laune Rangers some momentum & a continued surge saw the team have a shot at goal saved and an effort at a point come back off the post, before Daragh O’Connor finished a great team move with a goal to really give Rangers hope. Na Gaeil would point twice more to put some daylight between the sides, before Daragh O’Connor’s second goal levelled the game at 5-10 to 4-13 with 6 minutes to play.
Patrick Daly pointed a free – again won by his brother Oisin – to give Laune Rangers the lead for the first time in the game and this lead was doubled by Cian O’Shea a minute later. Na Gaeil scored a fortunate fifth goal in the 56th minute to edge ahead by the minimum, but Laune Rangers had the perfect response with Daragh O’Connor completing his hat-trick with a super goal. This left Rangers ahead by two, and a late pointed free wasn’t enough for Na Gaeil as the home side held on for the win after a stunning game. Final Score:- Laune Rangers 6-12, Na Gaeil 5-14.
Having been comprehensively beaten by the same opposition in Round 1 of the County League four months ago, Laune Rangers put in a more cohesive performance to get the win in this tie. With Patrick Carey often driving his team forward from the back with Oisin Daly in tow, Rangers half-forward line did the lion’s share of the scoring, with Cian O’Shea (2-2), Patrick Daly (1-1), and Daragh O’Connor (3-2) punishing Na Gaeil time and time again.
Laune Rangers: Padraig Ahern, Patrick Carey (0-2), Darragh O’Shea, Oisin Daly, Cathal Doyle, Darragh O’Sullivan (0-1), John Francis O’Grady, Kealan Houlihan (0-1), Ciarán Foley, Patrick Daly (1-1), Cian O’Shea (2-2), Daragh O’Connor (3-2), Dáire Cleary (0-3). Sub: Liam Croke.