CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FEALE RANGERS TEAM AND MENTORS FOR WINNING THE 2007 COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
Feale Rangers 1-4 South Kerry 0-6
After a 27-year wait, Feale Rangers are once again cream of the crop in Kerry Senior Football.
Not since the famous Rangers team, of Tim Kennelly, Jimmy Deenihan (Captain) and Johnny Mulvihill to name but a few, defeated Austin Stacks in the 1980 county final has the North Kerry divisional team seen Championship glory.
Rangers were written off all the way through this county championship, defying the odds, and causing the biggest championship upset this decade. Up against South Kerry, who were chasing their fourth title on the trot, Rangers were complete underdogs.
It was a victory they thoroughly deserved though the finale could have seen the game go either way. The loser’s had their chances. If Bryan Sheehan's attempt had slotted over in the final minutes it would have been a tie-break but it was not to be there day. Feale Rangers were superb on the day and each and everyone of them should be very proud of themselves.
Their backs were a different class, leaving the south’s forwards utterly bamboozled. Rangers were first to the breaking ball, challenging and attacking at every chance. It was inspired stuff - the stuff of true champions. Ranger’s midfield was on top, more so in the first half, which was 30 minutes that they dominated and they should have gone in at the break more than just 1-3 to 0-2 ahead.
Derek Galvin pointed when he could have goaled, Killian Young made a fantastic tackle to stop Noel Kennelly going clean through and they were other opportunities after Rangers had opened up South Kerry’s defence time and time again. From the second that Brian Scanlon slipped an eight minute goal to the net, Rangers had the momentum. It was just the sort of score that this game needed.
But even when South Kerry finally clicked into gear at the start of the second half and dragged themselves level, 1-3 to 0-6- most thought they would kick on and win then - Rangers didn’t panic. They stayed composed and how fitting it was that their Leader and Captain, Eamon Fitzmaurice, would kick the winning score four minutes from the end - a huge effort from outside the 45m line. The duel between Fitzmaurice and outgoing Kerry Captain Declan O'Sullivan was a joy to watch.
None of South Kerry’s forwards scored from play during the entire game just about says it all. It took the reigning champs 46 minutes to score from play, and that came courtesy of a John Sugrue point but instead of that opening the floodgates, Rangers battened down the hatches once more and South Kerry wouldn’t score from play again.
The introduction of Maurice Fitzgerald has to be mentioned, renowned for his ability, a household name in Gaelic Football, went practically unnoticed, it was by no means a return to the glory days for Fitzgerald and is a positive testiment to the performance of Feale Rangers on the day.
South Kerry opened the scoring when Ronan Hussey sent over a fourth minute free, Noel Kennelly slotted over a close free after five minutes and then came Scanlon’s goal as he finished off a fine move that saw Paul Galvin sending in a high ball to South Kerry’s square. Maher broke the ball down to Kennelly who flicked it on to the on-rushing Scanlon. Unmarked, who striked low to the back of the net.
Bryan Sheehan scored a 14th minute free after Declan O’Sullivan was fouled but that was to be their last score in the half. Two further points by Rangers - a Derek Galvin point (could have been a goal) and a Scanlon score - saw them lead by four at the break, 1-3 to 0-2.
On the resumption, South Kerry were the ones who started brightest in the second 30 minutes, restricting Rangers to just one point in the half but what a score it was by Fitzmaurice. Frees from Sheehan (2) and Hussey, along with a John Sugrue point from play levelled the game with five minutes left. South Kerry gave Rangers far too much space in the dying minutes allowing Captain Fantastic to hit the matching winning score.
It was a win that was well merited and the party in North Kerry is still going. Feale Rangers are the AIB County Senior Football Champions. We're back and hopefully to stay.
Feale Rangers S Quinn; J Mulvihill, P Corridan, K Quirke; B Guiney, E Fitz-maurice (0-1), D Griffin; B Whelan, P Galvin; E Galvin, N Kennelly (0-1 free), M Corridan; B Scanlon (1-1), A Maher, D Galvin (0-1). Subs used: S McCarthy for D Galvin; L Keane for D Griffin; C Galvin for B Scanlon.
South Kerry:M Drummond; W O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan, A O’Connell; Denis O’Sullivan, B Hickey, K Young; B Sheehan (0-3 frees), J Sugrue (0-1); P Curran, Declan O’Sullivan, A O’Sullivan; R Hussey, R O’Connor, S Fogarty. Subs used: M Fitzgerald for S Fogarty; G O’Driscoll for A O’Sullivan.