Friday 20 April 2018

Rangers march on

Hazel Lane 0 Rangers 2

Division 2

Already promoted Rangers crowned that achievement by clinching the second division title with an accomplished two nil win over Hazel Lane on Sunday to continue a meteoric rise up the ranks in the North East League.

They have made the leap from the fourth to the first division in three straight seasons and in addition completed a glorious treble last season when along with lifting the third division title, they also won the Fiachra O'Neill Shield and the Leinster Junior Shield.

Not too many boost such a successful record, and this year the team proved their mettle when in mid season it looked like their wonderful run in the league could be in jeopardy when staring a walloping, trailing 5-1 with only five minutes left against Virginia.

However, they showed their character to reduce the deficit to 5-3, and while beaten the game proved a watershed from which they drew belief to push on again and secured another title on Sunday.

They needed just a point but knew that Hazel Lane would be no pushover, as they needed extra-time and a penalty shoot out to overcome them in the Fitzsimons Cup some weeks ago when playing at home.

This time they met them on their own patch and while they had nothing tangible to play for the hosts would have liked to give their manager a winning send-off with this being his last match in charge.

The playing pitch wasn't good but the sides gave as good as they received in the opening phase with Hazel Lane determined that Rangers would have to work hard to take the title.

Indeed the hosts had the first real goal chance from which they should have scored when the ball fell in the Rangers box but from six yards one of their players put it over the bar.

Mid-way through Rangers gained the breakthrough they sought and key they saw to landing the title. Michael Bergin won the ball in mid-field and linked up with Barry Carr who played it back to him to score from the edge of the box.

Not known for his goals this was the mid-fielder's second vital goal in as many matches and couldn't have timed better the discovery of his scoring touch.

The champions could have gone two nil in front, but Barry Carr had his attempt from outside the penalty box saved by the home goalkeeper.

The game opened up in the second-half and Hazel Lane spurned a great opportunity to equalise when their centre-half out- jumped the Rangers defence to meet a corner kick but headed over the crossbar.

They exerted quite a deal of pressure on Rangers, who conceded a string of free-kicks and for ten minutes had to defend stoutly as thee back four and Thomas Mulvey proved equal to the challenge.

Having survived this spell they ensured victory and secured the title with their second goal 20 minutes from time.

Gavin Gaffey picked out ace scorer Barry Carr at the back post and he struck the net with a half volley.

They had further chances to extend their winning margin, one of which fell to Keith Harmon who was unlucky to have his shot saved by the goalkeeper.

Rangers still aim to add more silverware before the end of the season and to complete a double with their sights on the Fitzsimons Cup in which they are through to the semi-final.

Rangers: Thomas Mulvey, Brian McCloskey (Shane McKenna), Jimmy Byrne, Padraig Browne, Stephen Begley, Shaun O'Connor (Keith Harmon), Michael Bergin (Gavin Lennon), Anto McLaughlin, Gavin Gaffey, Barry Carr, TJ Murtagh. Other subs, Gerard Collins and Sean Kellegher.

The Argus