Two late Eoghan Hassett points help Laune Rangers to extra-time win over Rathmore in U-21 quarter-final

Laune Rangers needed an injury-time equaliser from Hassett to force extra-time after Alan Dineen’s 58th minute goal looked to have snatched the win for Rathmore

Laune Rangers' Eoghan Hassett in action against Rathmore in their U-21 quarter-final in Killorglin on Wednesday evening. Photos by Michael G Kenny

John O'Dowd at KillorglinKerryman


Laune Rangers 1-21

Rathmore 2-16

(after extra-time)

Two points in the second half of extra-time from centre-forward Eoghan Hassett propelled Laune Rangers into the semi-finals of the county under-21 football championship following a riveting showdown with Rathmore on Wednesday evening.

Played at a sun-splashed JP O’Sullivan Park in Killorglin, this was a compelling clash between two evenly-matched outfits, and even though there were significant absentees (John Burke and Gearoid Hassett for the hosts, Andrew Moynihan for Rathmore), that certainly didn’t dilute the entertainment value.

Laune Rangers had slightly the better of the first quarter, at the end of which they led by the minimum, 0-5 to 0-4, Hassett, captain Calum Moriarty and Marc Clifford all finding the target, but the visitors soon put their foot on the throttle, rattling the home team considerably.

An unanswered Rathmore scoring burst of 1-4 turned the game on its head, with Alan Dineen, Cathal Ryan, the will-o-the-wisp Darragh Nagle and the ever-accurate Fionn Murphy inspiring their attacking assault, enabling the East Kerry side to lead by five points at half-time, 1-8 to 0-6.

The goal arrived in the 20th minute, and it was beautifully constructed. Ryan set off on a buccaneering run from midfield before offloading to Nagle, whose excellent long hand-pass across the danger zone was palmed to the net by the inrushing Murphy, who hit 1-4 before the break.

By the start of the second half, Laune Rangers had already used three substitutes, such was their concern at how the contest was developing, but there was no immediate comeback. Indeed, Liam Hassett’s charges were still five adrift at the conclusion of the third quarter, 1-10 to 0-8.

However, rejuvenated by a swashbuckling, inspirational point from centre-back Rory O’Connor, and with Matthew Leslie finally escaping the shackles of the hitherto dominant Dineen for a period, it was now Laune Rangers’ turn to register 1-4 on the trot, to jump into the ascendancy, 1-12 to 1-10.

Leslie fired over two fine points from play, Clifford added another with a booming long-range effort, and then after a great Laune Rangers defensive turnover, O’Connor’s magnificent pass allowed the advancing Hassett to beat the Rathmore goalkeeper in a race for possession, slotting into an empty net.

That wasn’t the end of the second half excitement, however. Far from it. With the pendulum having swung from one side to the other from the first whistle, there was bound to be another sting in the tail. And it was Rathmore that provided it in the 58th minute.

Two points behind, skipper Dineen grabbed the bull by the horns, embarking on a determined burst from the middle of the field, playing a one-two with fellow defender Jack Buckley, and then slipping it past the Laune Rangers’ custodian. A defender caught the ball, but it was deemed to already be over the line by the umpires.

Laune Rangers' Darragh Nagle outruns the Rathmore defence

Heading into injury-time, Hassett levelled the game again with a close-range free, and with the outstanding Nagle sin-binned, Laune Rangers now had a numerical advantage. Could either outfit find that match-winning moment to decide this pulsating affair?

A magnificently-struck ’45 from midfielder Tom Whittleton, which soared over the bar, appeared to have done just that for the home team three minutes into added time, but Rathmore would not give up, and the superb Murphy kicked an outrageous last-gasp free to send it to an extra 20 minutes, 1-15 to 2-12.

With Nagle still off the pitch, the away team actually started extra-time the stronger, notching the opening two points but, with four of the next five scores (including absolute peaches from corner-back Ryan Diggin and sub Darragh O’Grady), Rangers led by one, 1-19 to 2-15, at the 70th minute mark.

Rathmore quickly brought parity once more on the resumption, with Murphy’s tenth point of the evening, but after David McCarthy was foiled by Adam Carey with a smothered save, the Killorglin side finished the stronger, Hassett (from play and a free) edging them over the line by the final whistle.

With the herculean O’Connor leading the way from centre-back, Laune Rangers now advance to the semi-finals, and will fly the lone flag for clubs, alongside North Kerry, East Kerry and South Kerry. The competition will resume after the conclusion of the Leaving Cert examinations.

LAUNE RANGERS: Adam Carey; Ryan Diggin 0-1, Sean Cleary, Matt Reenstierna; Killian Spillane, Rory O’Connor 0-1, James Treacy; Tom Whittleton 0-2 (1 ‘45’), Calum Moriarty 0-1; Jack Healy, Eoghan Hassett 1-7 (0-4f), Cillian Foley; Jack O’Sullivan, Matthew Leslie 0-6 (3f), Marc Clifford 0-2. Subs: Darragh O’Grady 0-1 for Healy (23), Callum Russell for Foley (28), Cathal O’Callaghan for Treacy (ht), Adam Owens for Clifford (57), Tom Garry for O’Sullivan (59), O’Sullivan for Owens (69), Treacy for Diggin, inj (70+3), Clifford for Garry (73).

RATHMORE: Ian O’Connor; Jack Buckley, Alan Dineen 1-1, Daniel Sheehan; Shane Daly, Michael Dennehy, Daniel Moynihan; Cathal Ryan 0-1, Cian Twomey 0-1; David McCarthy, Ciarán Collins 0-1 (m), Brian Murphy; Darragh Nagle 0-2, Fionn Murphy 1-10 (0-8f), Aaron Cronin. Subs: Jack Quinn for F Murphy (blood, 44-48), Quinn for Sheehan, inj (78), Daniel Herlihy for Twomey, inj (80+3).

REFEREE: Maurice Murphy (St Michael’s/Foilmore)