Argideen Rangers 1-14
Randal Óg 0-11 (aet)
JOHN MURPHY REPORTS
IT took over 80 minutes of thrills, spills, drama and excitement at Ahiohill before Argideen Rangers emerged to book their place in the semi-finals of this year’s Bandon Co-op Junior A Football Championship.
Forget about the final score-line, this match was balanced on a knife’s edge until five minutes into extra-time when substitute Darragh Holland became the toast of Timoleague.
Fastening on to a delightful delivery by the outstanding Sean Walsh, Holland rifled a rocket high into Randal Óg rigging. When a game of small margins is so dependent on moments like this, it was a golden goal of sheer quality.
Rangers now had their tails up and with the remaining minutes played in a hailstorm the men from the monastic settlement added on three more points – a free by Holland and two superb scores by Lorcan O’Leary – to run out deserving winners. But this only tells part of the tale. Let us go back to where it all began.
With the strong wind to their backs Rangers ruled the roost in the opening quarter, running up a 0-5 to 0-1 advantage. Eoin Lawton, Sean Walsh, Fergal Walsh, Dylan Harrington and Gerry Crowley had the scoreboard operator on overtime as a sole Cal Nyhan (albeit a real beauty) point for Randals saw Rangers well in control at the close of the opening quarter.
Peter Collins (free) and the effective Bill Fleming traded scores before the brilliant Sean Walsh tested the quality of paint on Randals crossbar.
Slowly, but surely Randals rallied, as Kevin Dullea, Gearóid White, Seán Daly and Sam Kingston upped the ante. It took two fabulous saves by Luke McCarthy to keep them at bay, their only reward a Peter Collins free, before in a Rangers breakaway Bill Fleming scored the point of the match. A fine long-distance effort by Eoin Lawton saw half-time read 0-8 to 0-3, Rangers in front.
Peter Collins and Lorcan O’Leary exchanged points on resuming as Randals rang the changes, introducing Barry O’Driscoll and Donnacha Collins, the latter in particular proving most effective. Sean Daly narrowed the deficit before Rangers suffered three hammer blows in rapid succession. Firstly, Eoin Lawton got a black card, to be quickly followed in the lonely walk by Joe Murphy and Bill Fleming, the latter duo getting two straight red cards.
Rangers’ backs were to the wall in earnest, down to 12 men. While Lawton returned to the fray it was going to be some task to keep out the now rampant Randals. Thanks to defensive heroics of Finbarr Butler, the Walsh twins, Darragh O’Donovan and Sean Henchion it looked as if Rangers would prevail, still 0-10 to 0-8 to the good as injury-time loomed.
Seamus Crowley and Sean Daly tied it all up before a Lorcan O’Leary special sent the Timoleague followers into ecstasy. However, a final twist in the tail came in the 64th minute as Donnacha Collins sent the game to extra-time, 0-11 to 0-11, a feat of Herculean class performed by thirteen-man Rangers.
The remaining drama we have chronicled at the outset as Argideen’s guile, experience and craft saw them home in dramatic style, Randals losing no caste in a gallant defeat.
‘We were faced with adversity; these lads have shown great character and it was tested again today and they did not let us down. They ground out a fantastic win against all the odds and we are extremely proud of them’, said a delighted Edward McSweeney, Argideen Rangers selector.
Argideen Rangers: Lorcan O’Leary 0-5 (1f); Darragh Holland 1-1 (1f); Bill Fleming, Eoin Lawton 0-2 each; Fergal Walsh, Sean Walsh, Dylan Harrington, Gerry Crowley 0-1 each.
Randal Óg: Peter Collins 0-4 (2f); Donnacha Collins 0-3; Sean Daly 0-2 (1f); Cal Nyhan, Seamus Crowley 0-1 each.
Argideen Rangers: Luke McCarthy; Finbarr Butler, Darragh O’Donovan, Sean Henchion; Bill Fleming, Joe Murphy, Sean Walsh; Gerry Crowley, Eoin Lawton; Matt Lawton, Fergal Walsh, Dylan Harrington; Lorcan O’Leary, Padraig Butler, Cathal O’Donovan.
Subs: Darragh Holland for Dylan Harrington (48), Colin Smith, Eoin Guinevan (direct replacements in extra-time).
Randal Óg: Sean Calnan; Padraig Duggan, Tim Walsh, Eoin Murray; Stephen Crowley, Seamus Crowley, Cian O’Neill; Peter Collins, Conor O’Neill; Ian Crowley, Kevin Dullea, Cal Nyhan; Gearóid White, Sam Kingston, Sean Daly.
Subs: Padraig O’Sullivan for Kevin Dullea (27), Barry O’Driscoll for Sam Kingston (ht), Donnacha Collins for Stephen Crowley (ht), Kevin Dullea for Peter Collins (et).
Referee: Stephen Murphy (Bandon).