Laune Rangers 2-8, North Kerry 1-13
Just two points separated the teams at full time on Wednesday evening in Strand Road, as Laune Rangers, having battled until the final whistle, ultimately came up short against North Kerry in the Acorn Life County Under 21 Championship Semi Final.
Laune Rangers – the last club side standing in the competition – were without the services of Gearóid Hassett, Jack O’Sullivan, & Aona O’Shea as well as a few Leaving Cert students including Ciarán O’Sullivan on the evening.
North Kerry – combining the two traditional Senior Championship teams in Feale Rangers and Shannon Rangers – went into a three point lead early in the game through Michael Nolan (2) and Jack McElligott before Laune Rangers got on the scoreboard with a well taken Callum Russell point.
The first goal of the game came in the 12th minute, as North Kerry extended their lead with Jack McElligott rippling the net for his side. Laune Rangers reacted well though, and scored a goal of their own a minute later – Darragh O’Grady finishing from close range following some great work by Rory O’Connor.
John Burke added a super point from the sideline to leave Laune Rangers trailing by 1-3 to 1-2 with fifteen minutes played.
Darragh Lynch, Rob Stack and Adam Segal pointed for North Kerry before Eoghan Hassett replied with a point for Laune Rangers. Laune Rangers came close to a second goal late in the half, but Mikey O’Donnell’s effort came off the crossbar and away to safety. A late Michael Nolan point was cancelled out by an Eoghan Hassett pointed free to see the teams separated by three points at the break.
Half Time Score:- Laune Rangers 1-4, North Kerry 1-7.
Michael Nolan and Matt Leslie traded pointed frees in the early stages of the second half before Laune Rangers, applying more pressure in attack, added frees through Eoghan Hassett and Leslie again to leave the minimum between the sides.
North Kerry found another gear and sustained pressure of their own in the Laune Rangers half, pointing through Jack McElligott, Rory Mahony and Kevin Goulding to lead by 1-11 to 1-7 with fifteen minutes remaining.
While Eoghan Hassett (free) reduced the gap to three temporarily, Kevin Goulding (free) and Rob Stack stretched out the North Kerry lead again – two points that would prove crucial in the final shake-up.
A 60th minute penalty made for a nervy ending – Tom Whittleton fouled in the square before Matt Leslie dispatched the spot kick to leave Laune Rangers trailing by two. However, North Kerry held on to book their place in the County U21 Final.
Full Time Score:- Laune Rangers 2-8, North Kerry 1-13.
North Kerry were much the stronger side on the evening, with five former Kerry Minors on the starting team and two more introduced from the bench. Laune Rangers, for their part, put in a fantastic effort in defeat, and only three of the squad on the evening – Seán Cleary, Rory O’Connor and Matt Leslie – are overage next year.
While the team left disappointed, they will take great pride in their efforts to make it to the penultimate stage of the competition.
Laune Rangers:- Adam Carey, Killian Spillane, Seán Cleary, Matt Reenstierna, Ryan Diggin, Rory O’Connor, James Treacy, Tom Whittleton, Calum Moriarty (capt), John Burke (0-1), Eoghan Hassett (0-4, 3f), Callum Russell (0-1), Matthew Leslie (1-2, 1 pen, 2f), Marc Clifford, Darragh O’Grady (1-0). Subs: Michael O’Donnell for Clifford, Patrick Brennan for Russell, Tom Garry for O’Grady, Daniel Evans for Treacy.
North Kerry:- Shane O’Sullivan (Ballyduff), Seanan O’Caoimh (Duagh), Tadhg O’Carroll (Ballydonoghue), Aodhán Behan (St Senans), Rory Mahony (St Senans, 0-1), Donnacha Maher (Duagh), Adam Segal (Ballyduff, 0-1), Robert Stack (Beale, 0-2), Cillian Holly (Listowel Emmets), Ted Moloney (Duagh), Jack McElligott (Listowel Ememts, 1-2), Conor Toomey (Beale), Darragh Lynch (jt capt, Listowel Emmets, 0-1), Kevin Goulding (jt capt, Ballyduff, 0-2, 1f), Michael Nolan (Ballydonoghue, 0-4, 1 mk). Subs: Cormac Dillon (Duagh) for Lynch, Darragh Slattery (Ballyduff) for Toomey, Eddie Healy (Listowel Emmets) for Holly, Seán McGrath (St Senans) for Nolan.