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Shannon Rangers selector says club championships should be completed before county SFC gets underway

Meaningless Group 1 game between Shannon Rangers and St Kierans turns out to be a Tarbert versus Knocknagoshel challenge match


James Walsh - one of 15 Knocknagoshel players to line out for St Kierans against Shannon Rangers - scored six points

James Walsh - one of 15 Knocknagoshel players to line out for St Kierans against Shannon Rangers - scored six points

James Walsh - one of 15 Knocknagoshel players to line out for St Kierans against Shannon Rangers - scored six points



Shannon Rangers 4-10

St Kierans 1-14

While Shannon Rangers will be satisfied to have concluded their County SFC Group 1 campaign with a home triumph over St Kierans at Ballylongford, the fact that the match was a total dead rubber is an unpalatable outcome for all concerned.

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With both outfits already out of contention for spots in the last eight, O’Rahilly Park witnessed the slightly surreal situation of the district teams being represented by two clubs, in Tarbert and Knocknagoshel respectively, with the best to be said was that fixture was fulfilled. With Junior Club Championship semi-finals for Tarbert and Knocknagoshel on the horizon, it seemed somewhat logical that those clubs would use this fixture to keep themselves sharp, but it also highlighted unfortunate nature of the dead rubber scenario that permeated three of the four SFC groups in the final round of fixtures.

“I suppose the group stages are a good idea, but maybe they could look at changing the format, by making the second round a case of winners v winners and losers v losers, so that you would pretty much guarantee a third competitive game. There are a pile of dead rubbers around the county this weekend,” said Shannon Rangers selector Cathal O’Connor.

“From my point of view, it’s very hard to get them together, impossible really. I know Feale Rangers, on the other side, are going fairly well, they’re in a quarter-final, but for me they will have to do something. I don’t know what the correct way of looking at it would be, because even though the preparation time is too small, I don’t believe that, even if you had six months to prepare, it would be that different.”

Admitting that there is something missing in the Shannon Rangers set-up at this moment in time, O’Connor stressed that the decision to break up the club championships (with semi-finals and finals yet to be played) does nothing to help a divisional side to get their house in order before they begin their Bishop Moynihan Cup season.

“Definitely, without a doubt. You should run off one competition, rather than breaking up the club championship, and if you finished the club, you might then have a better chance of getting a lot more club players in with Shannon Rangers, which would be better for both the clubs and Shannon Rangers.

“You’re going to have to do something if you want to be beating the likes of East Kerry and Dr Crokes. We played them last week and they were very, very strong. You have some great clubs in this competition. To me, the amalgamations are not really working the way they should be. Shannon Rangers are not strong enough, and East Kerry are far too strong, for instance.”

As regards the game itself, a three-goal blast in the opening five minutes of the second half gave Shannon Rangers the cushion to withstand a last quarter fade-out, ending up with a five-point margin of victory, after St Kierans launched a spirited recovery mission late on.

With the hosts leading by two, 1-6 to 1-4, at the interval, they sprinted out of the traps on the resumption, winning the throw-in and launching an attack through Jack Sheehan and Patsy O’Connell that culminated in corner-forward Darragh Foley rocketing home a right-footed drive.

Temporarily shaken by the concession of that green flag, St Kierans got the resultant kick-out all wrong, with Mike Casey’s restart going straight to O’Connell, and the experienced Shannon Rangers attacker had no difficulty in lofting the ball straight over the stranded goalkeeper and into the net.

The visitors were now all at sea, Cillian Langan orchestrating a move in the 34th minute, and laying off the final pass for the advancing Danny Stack to drill a low daisy-cutter past the despairing dive of Casey. With Foley almost immediately tapping over a point, St Kierans were suddenly twelve adrift, 4-7 to 1-4.

To be fair to them, they had shown their credentials by bouncing back from a first quarter deficit, 1-3 to 0-1 (Langan slotting home from a penalty), to get within two of their opponents at half-time. Corner-forward Cathal McElligott’s well-taken goal in the 25th minute and a booming long-range point from John Walsh propelled them into the contest.

Twelve points was a different scale of mountain to climb, however, but St Kierans made a good fist of it in the closing quarter, firing over eight of the last nine points as Shannon Rangers faded out of the picture to a large degree, content that the job had basically been done at that stage.

With James Walsh solid from placed balls, John Bell making his presence felt in the midfield exchanges, and Michael Keane arrowing over a couple of nice points, St Kierans kept going to the final whistle, with Shannon Rangers not aided by the late dismissals of defenders Shane Enright and Michael Heaphy for second bookable offences.

SHANNON RANGERS (all Tarbert): Pa Carmody; Michael Heaphy, Kevin Enright, Jack Healy; Gavin Breen, Shane Enright, Ben Sheehan; Shea McDonnell 0-1, Micheal Normile; Jack Sheehan, Cillian Langan 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), Patsy O’Connell 1-1; Darragh Foley 1-2, Danny Stack 1-2 (0-1f), Paddy O’Callaghan. Subs: Padraig Carrig for Stack (46), Bobby Wren for Healy (46), Noel Brosnan for Langan (46), Cathal Brosnan for O’Connell (46), Finbarr Carrig for O’Callaghan (52).

ST KIERANS (all Knocknagoshel): Mike Casey; Jack McElligott, John Brosnan, Denis Collins; Denis Roche 0-1, Conor Sheehan, John Walsh 0-1; James Walsh 0-6 (5f), Michael Walsh; Billy Rahilly 0-1, Michael Keane 0-2, Niall Barrett; David O’Donoghue, John Bell 0-2 (1 ‘45’), Cathal McElligott 1-1. Sub: Steven O’Connell for O’Donoghue (46).

Referee: John Purcell (Kilcummin)