above: Referee Denis Sayers conducting final checks before throwing the ball up between Brendan Delaney (17), Maurice Foley (9), and number 8s Mike Burke & John Sheehan
Laune Rangers lose to
Milltown/Castlemaine in Mid Kerry Semi Final
Laune Rangers 0-9,
Laune Rangers hosted Milltown/Castlemaine in the Mid Kerry Senior Football Championship Semi Final in JP O’Sullivan Park on Sunday last. The weakening Storm Clodagh still lingered as the teams warmed up and took to the field for the game, and the strong swirling wind remained throughout, slightly favouring Milltown/Castlemaine in the first half. Meanwhile, the sight of Peter Crowley sporting a sling on the sideline only served as a reminder to the home fans of the task at hand, as his season is over following a shoulder operation last week.
Laune Rangers started well against the breeze and opened the scoring with a pointed free by Mike Frank Russell in the 6th minute. Russell added his second point with a punched effort two minutes later, although Rangers had strong claims for a penalty in the build up, as David Costello appeared to be brought to the ground by Milltown/Castlemaine ‘keeper Cormac Leane. That incident appeared a initiate the shift of momentum, as Milltown/Castlemaine found themselves ahead by 1-2 to 0-2 on the quarter mark – Pa Wrenn and Jack McCarthy (free) pointing, before McCarthy put the ball past three defenders to find the net for a goal. Donal Kelliher increased his side’s lead to four with a point before John Sheehan pointed well from distance to cancel it out. A last-ditch tackle by Kieran Crowley brought Marcus Mangan to the ground, and the Laune Rangers defender was issued a black card. McCarthy pointed the resulting free, but it was almost immediately cancelled out by a well taken free by the ageless Mike Frank Russell. Laune Rangers lost John O’Shea to injury to compound their misfortune in the first half. Cathal Moriarty pointed well from distance to restore the 5 point gap, but Russell kicked an outstanding point from play in the first minute of injury time to send the sides into the dressing rooms at Half Time with the score:- Laune Rangers 0-5, Milltown/Castlemaine 1-6.
Laune Rangers dominated the third quarter of the game. Some excellent placed ball kicking by Mike Frank Russell delivered three points - two 45s and a free – while Kieran Doona pointed from distance and a solitary Jack McCarthy free for Milltown/Castlemaine left just one point between the sides at 0-9 to 1-7 with 15 minutes to play. The game’s standout moment then came, when some good play by Rangers put Russell into space, and with an option to shoot for goal or punch the ball over the bar, he fist-passed the ball across goal to an onrushing teammate. The ball was not touched by another player however, went directly into the net and was disallowed. The pendulum of momentum swung the way of Milltown/Castlemaine after this, and they closed the game out by scoring 4 unanswered points through Jack McCarthy (free), Pa Wrenn, Cathal Moriarty and Johnathan O’Sullivan, who had replaced Ciaran Kelliher for a black card incident. The final whistle was blown in a cold, wet JP O’Sullivan Park for a Full Time score:- Laune Rangers 0-9, Milltown/Castlemaine 1-11.
Laune Rangers will rue the number of missed chances, as well as the early loss of Kieran Crowley to a black card and the injury to John O’Shea that, with two important games approaching in the next fortnight, will leave Rangers anxious that he can recover as quickly as possible. While Mike Frank Russell may remember this game for the chances missed – the goal chance and a couple of frees – it would have been a much tougher game for Rangers without his tally of seven points. He kicked 5 difficult frees, a punched effort from a tight angle and one outstanding point off his left foot from 50 yards. The five point difference on the scoreboard may flatter Milltown/Castlemaine somewhat, but they also kicked some fantastic scores in the conditions. Wing back Pa Wrenn scored two excellent points at important times in the game while Mike Burke – like Russell & Sheehan on the other side – put in a performance that any player would be happy with, let alone players that have played in over 20 Mid Kerry Senior Championships. However, it was corner forward Jack McCarthy that proved the difference maker on the the day with a goal and 5 pointed frees.
Milltown/Castlemaine now move on to the Mid Kerry Senior Final, and will take on the winner of next week’s Semi final tie between Keel and Glenbeigh/Glencar.
Laune Rangers: Tony Lyons, Keith Sheehan, Kieran Crowley, Johnny Carey, Chris Riordan, Ronan Sayers, Ryan Keane, John Sheehan (0-1), Maurice Foley, David Costello, Shane McSweeney (capt), Pa Joy, John O’Shea, Michael F Russell (0-7, 5f), Kieran Doona (0-1). Subs used: Michael O’Sullivan for Crowley (black card), John Tyther for O’Shea, Shane Daly for Foley
Milltown/Castlemaine: Cormac Leane, Paul Carroll, Damien Murphy, John Blennerhassett (capt), David Roche, Ciaran Kelliher, Pa Wrenn (0-2), Mike Burke, Brendan Delaney, Marcus Mangan, Donal Kelliher (0-1), Shane Murphy, Jerome Flynn, Cathal Moriarty (0-2), Jack McCarthy (1-5, 5f). Subs used: Eoin O’Brien for Flynn, Johnathan O’Sullivan (0-1) for C Kelliher (black Card).