Crowley steals it for Laune Rangers
THE pre-match predictions suggested that East Kerry would win this with a bit to spare.
The logic behind those assumptions being that they had impressed in their victory over Legion in the first round, that they had a pick of six clubs, including three Division 2 teams, and that they were facing a Laune Rangers side struggling at the bottom of the very same division.
Well so much for all that as, not for the first time, the lads from the Laune defied the odds and dug deep to fashion a famous victory. Their ability to lift themselves to unexpected heights when their survival in the championship was at stake was heartwarming and certainly trophies and tradition are something which they bring into the equation when questions are posed about their championship credentials.
Four points adrift after just four minutes with Darragh Roche neatly converting an early goal for the visitors, Rangers responded with a quite magnificent goal from their teenage wing forward Daniel Macbeth.
It had the effect of lifting their challenge considerably and their ability to combine efficiently and to counter attack with pace and purpose repeatedly put East Kerry on the back foot and their tendency to rush into tackles and concede quite a few needless fouls cost them dearly.
Level (1-2/1-2) at the end of the opening quarter, Rangers with the initiative firmly in their favour pushed forward in waves of attacks and converted clinically from all angles and distances. A purple patch from Shane McSweeney, which yielded 1-3, from play, all superb scores, put them firmly in the driving seat. East Kerry for long periods of the first half were reduced to sporadic attacks and it was the locals who held a commanding and fully merited interval lead (2-8/1-4).
One anticipated a response from East Kerry and it materialised from the outset of the second half with Mike O'Donoghue's unerring returns from placed balls reducing the deficit. Derry Ahern's goal converted neatly into the far corner in the sixth minute after O'Donoghue's vision created the chance for him reduced the margin to just two points and with Andrew Garnett exerting a grip in midfield, East Kerry with a monopoly of territitorial supremacy looked like the side most likely to succeed.
There was never more than a point between the teams for the remainder of normal time and with DJ O'Connor and Jeff O'Donoghue prominent in attack for East Kerry they led by the bare minimum with time almost up.
However, a Mike Frank Russell free meant that extra time would decide the outcome, with East Kerry having lost Derry Ahern with a black card and Cian Horan with a red right on the stroke of full time.
The encounter remained delicately poised throughout the opening period of extra-time and with the scores still deadlocked Peter Crowley stepped up and turned the game on its head. Latching on to a break he outpaced his marker with a defence splitting run and finished with conviction low to the East Kerry net for what ultimately proved to be the games most crucial score.
It afforded the locals a decisive scoring cushion (3-13/2-13) and in a final frantic final ten minutes they had to dig deep as the card count multiplied with Daniel Macbeth and Peter Crowley both black carded and Shane McSweeney after a bit of confusion being finally shown a red after a second yellow had been issued to him.
East Kerry did reduce the margin to the bare minimum and had chances as they laid siege in numbers to the Laune Rangers goal, but, the locals held out in a welter of excitement to confirm their status once again as championship specialists.
It was expected that if Rangers were to compete on equal terms that such as Mike Frank Russell and Peter Crowley would have to make significant contributions. Both had their moments, with Crowley's goal confirming his leadership qualities at a most opportune time.
In the final analysis this particular win owed much to the collective efforts of a hugely motivated, determined, and disciplined combination and to the input of their team Manager Liam Hassett and his backroom team.
John Sheehan's resilience in the pivotal defensive berth, Shane McSweeney's magnificent scoring returns on the forty. Daniel Macbeth's silken skills on the wing and Padraig Murphy's energy and industry in midfield were vital and notable features in their success.
It proved once again that talent and skill will only take you so far and without desire and belief it can be irrelevant. When questions were asked about Rangers ability to stay the distance they had all of the components necessary to prevail and ultimately succeed.
Laune Rangers: Tony Lyons, Kieran Crowley, Johnny Carey, Keith Sheehan, Peter Crowley (1-1), John Sheehan, Chris Riordan, Padraig Murphy, Shane Daly, Daniel Macbeth (1-1), Shane Mc Sweeney (1-5), John Tyther, David Costello (0-1), Colm O'Shea, Michael F. Russell (0-5, 4f). Subs: John O'Shea for D Costello, Shane O Connor for C O'Shea, Mark Healy for J. Tyther, Aaron Gamble for P Crowley (B/C), John Tyther for D Macbeth (B/C)
East Kerry: Colin Myers (Fossa), Michael Finnegan (Spa), Jack Sherwood (Firies), Michael Murphy (Gneeveguilla), Timmy O'Leary (Gneeveguilla ), Donal O'Sullivan (Glenflesk), (0-1) Shane Lynch ( Spa), Andrew Garnett (Spa), Jimmy O'Leary (Spa), Jeff O'Donoghue (Glenflesk) (0-1), Mike O'Donoghue (Spa), (0-9, 8f), Fintan Coffey (Fossa), Darragh Roche (Glenflesk) (1-0), DJ O'Connor (Gneevguilla ) (0-1), Derry Ahern (Listry) (1-1). Subs: Cian Horan (Glenflesk) (0-1) for J. Sherwood, Kieran Murphy (Glenflesk), for F Coffey, Michael O Shea (Glenflesk) (0-1) for D Ahern (B/C), Dan O Donoghue (Spa), for T O Leary, Shane Cronin (Spa), for J O Leary, Liam Kearney (Spa) for C. Horan (red card in extra time), Colm O Shea (Firies) for M. Murphy, Anthony Wharton (Fossa) for D.J O Connor
Referee: Paul O'Sullivan (Dromid Pearses)