SFC Group 1 – Round 1 V Shannon Rangers

Kenmare Shamrocks 0-17

Shannon Rangers 1-10

With a relegation play-off on the horizon that threatens their participation in the competition next season, Kenmare Shamrocks opened their 2022 County SFC campaign with victory over a Shannon Rangers team that confounded the pre-match talk and pushed their opponent all the way in an engaging opener of a doubleheader in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Sunday.

Shannon Rangers had a host of players unavailable to them, including some of their better ones from the Ballydonoghue club, but those who manager Martin O’Mahony could call on gave as good as they got for most of the hour. Indeed, it took five points from play from Kerry forward Stephen O’Brien, and six converted frees from his inter-county teammate Sean O’Shea, to finally break the Rangers’ resistance and dig out the win.

An underwhelming first half saw scoring chances limited in the main to shots from placed ball, as O’Shea opened the scoring with a pointed free in the first minute before Cillian Langan slotted one at the other end a minute later. O’Brien and David Hallissey added points for Kenmare – the only points from play in the half.

Andrew Doherty pointed a free for Shannon Rangers before O’Shea added a brace for Kenmare Shamrocks, leaving the South Kerry club side ahead by 0-5 to 0-2 with fifteen minutes played.

Andrew Doherty temporarily narrowed the gap by pointing a free for Shannon Rangers, but O’Shea added another brace at the other end to give Kenmare a four-point lead at the break, Kenmare Shamrocks 0-7, Shannon Rangers 0-3.

The game was given the shot in the arm it badly needed at the beginning of the second half as Shannon Rangers won the kick-out and, after claiming a mark, Micheál Foley picked a fantastic pass to Darragh Keane who was brought down for a penalty to the North Kerry men. Cillian Langan made no mistake to find the net from the spot, and the Tarbert man added an excellent point – Shannon Rangers’ first from play – to level the game.

Shannon Rangers were now playing with a renewed intensity and took the lead for the first time as Langan added to his tally. Kenmare replied with a point – somewhat against the run of play – through O’Brien with an excellent point from the tightest of angles. A well-taken point by Andrew Doherty saw Shannon Rangers leading by 1-6 to 0-8 with fifteen minutes remaining.

A pointed free by Cillian Langan put Shannon Rangers two points ahead, and Kenmare Shamrocks were in need of some inspiration to regain a foothold in the game. That inspiration came from a familiar source as Stephen O’Brien began to grow into the game – Kevin O’Sullivan, O’Brien, and Shane O’Sullivan all pointing in a four-minute spell that leveled the game again.

The final ten minutes were dominated by Kenmare Shamrocks, and they added points through substitute Jimmy Lehane and Seánie O’Shea before  O’Brien added a point to his tally. After seeing his side concede six unanswered points, Cillian Langan ended the run by slotting a pointed free for Shannon Rangers. However, Kenmare Shamrocks were able to close the game out with points by James McCarthy, O’Brien and David Hallissey while Shannon Rangers tagged on points through Andrew Doherty (free) and Micheál Foley to see a four-point difference separate the sides at the final whistle.

Shannon Rangers, while obviously disappointed to lose the game, will be heartened by the performance of a team with a lot of absentees on the day. They were, however, heavily reliant on Andrew Doherty and Cillian Langan for their scores. In fact, until Mitch Foley scored with the last kick of the game, all of Shannon Rangers’ scores had come from the Tarbert pair. Elsewhere, Darragh Keane and young wing back Robert Stack did well for the North Kerry outfit.

Kenmare Shamrocks’ strong finish was enough to carry them over the line. Stephen O’Brien scored some excellent points in that period. As well as O’Brien, midfield pair David Hallissey and James McCarthy thrived in Fitzgerald Stadium and combined for 0-3 from play, with McCarthy particularly excelling in the final quarter as his team pulled away to victory.

KENMARE SHAMROCKS: Kieran Fitzgibbon, Dara Crowley, Tommy O’Sullivan, Cian O’Sullivan, Dara O’Shea, Dan McCarthy, Shane O’Sullivan (0-1), David Hallissey (0-2), James McCarthy (0-1), Tommy Cronin, Sean O’Shea (0-6f), Kevin O’Sullivan (0-1), Pearce O’Brien, Tommy O’Sullivan, Stephen O’Brien (0-5). Subs: Jimmy Lehane (0-1) for T O’Sullivan, Jamie O’Regan for P O’Brien.

SHANNON RANGERS: Owen Tydings (Asdee), Martin Collins (Asdee), Kevin Enright (Tarbert), Danny Wren (Tarbert), Robert Stack (Beale), Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue), Michael Heaphy (Tarbert), Mark Buckley (Tarbert), Phille Blake (Beale), Jack O’Sullivan (Ballyduff), Micheál Foley 0-1 (Ballydonoghue), Cillian Langan 1-4 (1-0 pen, 3f) (Tarbert), Darragh Keane (Asdee), Andrew Doherty 0-5 (3f) (Tarbert), Conor Twomey (Beale). Subs: Ian Mannix (Beale) for Twomey, Neilius Mulvihill (Beale) for Blake, Ciarán O’Connor for Buckley.

REFEREE: Brian Fleming (Currow)

Report courtesy of Aiden Clifford – The Kerryman Newspaper.