Here’s Johnny! Kelly’s double blows open Premier Division title race

February 7th, 2020 6:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

The Dunmanway Town squad that defeated Drinagh Rangers in the Premier Division at Canon Crowley Park last Sunday.

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Dunmanway Town 2

Drinagh Rangers 1

JOHNNY Kelly’s brace helped Dunmanway Town inflict Drinagh Rangers’ first league defeat in over two years and blew the 2020 West Cork League Premier Division title race wide open last Sunday.

Dunmanway’s victory is even more impressive when you consider Drinagh’s league record prior to last weekend. Rangers last tasted defeat in the Premier Division on September 10th, 2017 (losing 2-0 at Ballydehob) and, unbelievably, had not lost a home league fixture since March 25th, 2012 (3-1 to Ballydehob).

As top-of-the-table clashes go, this local derby didn’t require any additional hyping at the rearranged venue of Canon Crowley Park. Premier Division pacesetters Drinagh put their undefeated league record on the line against 2019 champions Dunmanway.

Town kicked off seven points behind their opponents and with two games in hand, but it was Rangers that made the brighter start. Dominating the opening quarter, a period of sustained pressure resulted in Drinagh taking the lead via a set-piece after 15 minutes.

Robbie McQueen swung a corner towards the far post where Barry O’Driscoll (H) headed the ball back into a crowded six-yard box. Keith Jagoe’s determination saw the midfielder evade a couple of defenders and head past Darren Frazer.

Town were fortunate not to fall further behind when Frazer denied Robbie McQueen from close range and the young midfielder lobbed another effort inches wide shortly after.

But a tetchy first half produced little in the way of goalmouth action until Barry O’Driscoll (H)’s deflected shot skimmed off an upright five minutes before the break.

Rangers went even closer to doubling their lead on the stroke of half time when Robbie McQueen’s strike rebounded off the crossbar and was cleared off the line.

Despite dominating possession, Drinagh’s wastefulness in front of goal was punished when Dunmanway equalised five minutes after the resumption. The Mohona side were much improved in the second period and Johnny Kelly’s header from a superb Stephen O’Donovan layoff brought parity to the score.

That leveller prompted Town’s best spell in which Rhys Coakley, Mark Buckley and Cathal O’Donovan instigated a succession of attacks.

An effective offside trap coupled with JJ Collins’ defending kept Town at bay until the 63rd minute when Dunmanway deservedly hit the front. Cathal Daly crossed for Johnny Kelly to turn and wallop home his second of the afternoon.

That goal preceded a terrific final quarter in which Tomás Connolly and Johnny Kelly each had shots cleared off the goal-line. It finished 2-1 to Dunmanway on a weekend the Premier Division title race was opened up.

Dunmanway Town: Darren Frazer, Ray Jennings, John Healy, Aidan O’Donovan, Stephen Keohane, Cathal O’Donovan, Stephen O’Donovan (captain), Mark Buckley, Rhys Coakley, Cathal Daly, Johnny Kelly.
Subs: Patrick McCarthy, Darragh Kelly.

Drinagh Rangers: Rob Oldham, Donal O’Donovan, JJ Collins, Daniel McCarthy, Barry O’Driscoll (T), Keith Jagoe, Gearoid White, Jamie Walsh, Robbie McQueen, Tomás Connolly (captain), Barry O’Driscoll (H).
Subs: Gavin Beamish, Darren Beamish, Shane Connolly, Robert O’Regan, Adrian O’Driscoll.

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