Laune Rangers Minors overcame Firies on Saturday at a sun-drenched JP O’Sullivan Park, as they picked up their first win in the County Minor League Division 1.
Laune Rangers started well and got a score from their first play of the game through a free from Dáire Cleary. The home side doubled their lead in the 7th minute and full forward Keelin Houlihan notched a third before Firies registered their first score of the game through a pointed free. The hosts increased their lead further through excellent points from Daragh O’Connor & Eoin O’Sullivan to see Laune Rangers lead Firies by 0-5 to 0-1 with fifteen minutes played.
Firies registered their second point of the game in the 18th minute, but it was quickly cancelled out by a fine Dáire Cleary point and Fiachra Clifford extended Rangers’ lead with a pointed free in the 23rd minute. Laune Rangers produced two goal chances in as many minutes late in the half as Keelin Houlihan and Shane Doona saw their shots saved, although the latter effort ricocheted back to Doona who stuck his leg out and sent the ball over the bar. Firies were now six points behind entering injury time, but two successive attacks for the visitors produced scores – a well taken point followed by a stunning goal to the roof of the net from the edge of the square. This all but wiped out Rangers’ lead and, having dominated the play in the half, the home side found themselves ahead by just two points at the break. The Half Time Score:- Laune Rangers 0-8, Firies 1-3.
Laune Rangers midfielder Eoin O’Sullivan had had an excellent opening half, and caught the ball brilliantly from the throw in at the restart to begin a great move that led to Fiachra Clifford extending the lead with a point. Fires responded with a point of their own before Dáire Cleary restored Rangers’ lead to three points. Laune Rangers could have doubled their lead in the 39th minute when a great move up the right flank saw Dáire Cleary feed Shane Doona who was met by an onrushing goalkeeper and was unable to get his shot away. The ball was cleared and the counter-attack resulted in a free, which was duly slotted over the bar. Laune Rangers full back Patrick Carey stormed up field to get his name on the score sheet with an excellent point and with fifteen minutes to play, Rangers led by 0-11 to 1-5.
The gap between the sides was reduced to the minimum as Firies scored two points (1 free) but a pointed free by Fiachra Clifford put two points between the sides again with 8 minutes to play. Points were traded between Firies and Rangers (through Dáire Cleary with a super effort) before Firies put a single point between the sides again to leave Rangers leading by 0-13 to 1-9 as normal time expired. Laune Rangers were then awarded a free near the right sideline and 35 yards out and Fiachra Clifford made no mistake with his left foot to split the posts and double the lead. This score would prove to be the insurance point as it left Firies needing a goal. The visitors kicked a final point deep in injury time but they would not get another chance to score an equalizer. The final whistle was blown to see Rangers secure their first County League points of the season. Full Time Score:- Laune Rangers 0-14, Firies 1-10.
This was a hard fought and deserved win for Laune Rangers, who took the lead in the opening minute and never relinquished it. A number of missed goal chances should have made Rangers lead a little more comfortable before half time, but their defensive effort in the second half made up for it. The full back line of Conor Murphy, Patrick Carey and Sean Arthurs kept the inside safe and made Firies kick from distance – albeit quite successfully for the most part. In attack, Dáire Cleary and Fiachra Clifford both played a major role in Rangers scoring prowess. In all, it was a good performance in what was effectively the team’s first game of the season. They will play Na Gaeil in their next fixture in the County League. The game will take place on St Patrick's Day at 3:30pm in JP O'Sullivan Park.
Laune Rangers: Padraig Ahern, Sean Arthurs, Patrick Carey (0-1), Conor Murphy, David Mangan, Darragh O’Sullivan, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Eoin O’Sullivan (0-1), Fiachra Clifford (0-4, 3f), Cian O’Shea, Dáire Cleary (0-5, 2f), Daragh O’Connor (0-1), Mark O’Connor, Keelin Houlihan (0-1), Shane Doona (0-1). Subs used: Roan Moriarty, Gabriel Griffin, Oisin Daly