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Féile 2016 - Match Reports and Photos

posted 6 Jul 2016, 14:25 by rúnaí Cill Daingin   [ updated 6 Jul 2016, 15:14 ]

About eight weeks ago, Abbey Rangers trailed Eadestown by six points in the semi-final of the Kildare Feile as the game entered the dying minutes. What happened in those last few minutes kick started a chain of events that ended with team captain Darragh Perry lifting a National Feile Shield trophy on the steps of the famous Dr. Crokes GAA Club in Killarney on Sunday last.

After that late scoring blitz to defeat Eadestown, the young men from Kildangan and Ballykelly made light work of Aylmer Gaels in the Kildare final in St. Conleths Park in Newbridge.  And then it all began! When is it on? Where will we be based? Who will be our host Club? Did you get a Hotel? What gear will we get them? Is anyone away on holidays? Can we get sponsorship? So many questions and so little time.

Gradually it all fell into place and before we knew it, it was the 24th of June and we were heading for the Kingdom. Glenflesk was our host Club, located just outside Killarney and we were pitted against, Kilgarvan/Tuoist , Mohill of Leitrim and the home team.

The Glenflesk folk were hosting our lads and the New York ladies team and in fairness to them, they couldn’t have treated us better. Infact the only thing they did to upset us over the whole weekend was to beat us in our group game on Saturday morning and we can’t blame them for that. After the reception on Friday afternoon our lads went off in pairs to their host families to settle in. There was talk that evening about elaborate houses, walk-in wardrobes, fancy ensuites and one pair said they were staying with a chef in a 5 star hotel (but it actually turned out he was a welder!).

And then we were off to Kilgarvan for our first game of the tournament. This little village is made famous by the Healy-Rae clan and if you didn’t know before you drove into it, you certainly knew before you left. I reckon the Church is about the only building in the village that doesn’t have a Healy-Rae sign over the door. We were here for our first two games against Mohill and the local amalgamation side, Kilgarvan / Tuoist.

Group Game 1  –  Abbey Rangers 3.10   Mohill (Leitrim) 1.3

Having made the long trip from Leitrim to Kerry, the Mohill lads took to the field in Kilgarvan to provide our first opposition of the Feile.  Mikey Delahunt got our first score of the game and Daniel Gilbert followed with a second point following a good move involving Daragh Talbot, Aaron O’Connor and Rory McGrath.  Mohill soon found their rhythm and had 1.3 on the board in minutes but our lads struck back to equalise with a Mikey Delahunt goal and a point from Mark O’Donovan.
Whatever the coaches said at half time certainly worked because our lads came out and tore Mohill apart in the second half. A couple of goals from Cian Murtagh and a flurry of points from Sean Culleton, Josh Burns and Daniel Gilbert left our lads 3.10 to 1.3 ahead before Mohill got their only score of the half with a goal from a penalty in the last minute. 

Group Game 2  –  Abbey Rangers 2.4   Kilgarvan/Tuoist (Kerry) 2.2

After a short break we were on duty again, this time against local side Kilgarvan / Tuoist. The home team came flying at us from the start and it took good defending from John Kelly, Colm Coughlan and Darragh Perry to keep the score down. Some poor shooting from our lads combined with the constant pressure from the opposition left us 1.1 to 0.1 down at the break with our solitary score coming from Daniel Gilbert.
Our lads were rocked by an early second half goal for the home team but a Daniel Gilbert penalty and a superb Josh Burns goal quickly levelled the game at 2.1 each. Kilgarvan/Tuoist regained the lead again before Sean Culleton, Daniel Gilbert and Mikey Delahunt all pointed in the closing minutes to put us two points ahead. The last minute was frantic as the Kerry men went in search of a goal but they found a defence with Thomas Browne, Russel Grattan and goalkeeper Ben Keogh impossible to penetrate as we held out for a two point victory.  

With the football finished for the evening we headed back to Glenflesk feeling fairly satisfied with two wins under our belts. They had a barbeque laid on for us which was first class and then it was into the Hall for tea and cake. Their Club Chairman gave us a bit of history of their Club and they presented medals to both our lads and the New York ladies as a memento of their visit to Glenflesk. After a bit of musical entertainment we dispersed with the early start in mind the next morning against the home side.

Group Game 3  –  Abbey Rangers 1.2   Glenflesk (Kerry) 2.6

Abbey Rangers V Glenflesk
  There was a ceremonial start to the game as a lone piper led the teams on a parade around the pitch on a bright Saturday morning in Glenflesk. The opening five minutes was a tight affair with both sets of defenders on top and we were lucky that our goalkeeper Ben Keogh was in top form to prevent a string of Glenflesk goal chances. The home side slowly gained the upper hand and went 1.2 ahead before Daniel Gilbert opened the Abbey Rangers account with a fine point. However, a late scoring blitz yielded another 1.2 for Glenflesk as they took a 2.4 to 0.1 lead into the half time break.

Our lads had the perfect start to the second half with a Mikey Delahunt point quickly followed by a goal from Daniel Gilbert.  Russel Grattan, John Kelly and Darragh Talbot put in very strong performances in the half back line as they turned over several Glenflesk attacks. Jack Curran and Mark O’Donovan were unlucky at the other end but we just couldn’t get in for scores as the home side locked down their defence. An injury to our centre back Sean McDonald didn’t help our cause and as our lads tired in the closing stages, Glenflesk managed two further points to run out winners on a score line of 2.6 to 1.2.

With three teams in the group all on two wins, and only two teams going through to the Cup competition, the decision came down to score difference and we were pipped into third which meant we were in the Shield. Then word came through that we were playing St. Pats from Blennerville in Kilcummin. All I can say is thank God for the sat nav!
We arrived to find that our opposition were wearing the same jerseys as ourselves so we had to turn ours inside out. But our lads didn’t let that bother them.

Shield Quarter Final  –  Abbey Rangers 4.8   St. Pats (Kerry) 2.0

This game opened at a blistering pace with our lads racing into a 0.3 to nil lead inside the first five minutes. Rory McGrath then gathered a long ball from Josh Burns and held possession under pressure before off-loading to the in-coming Daniel Gilbert who finished with a blistering shot to the bottom corner of the net.  St. Pats replied with two goals of their own inside the next two minutes to level the game before a late Sean Culleton point gave us the slightest advantage at half time.
Two Mikey Delahunt goals in the opening minute turned this game firmly in our favour but the lads from the Kingdom continued to battle on. It took some superb play from Ciaran Byrne, Jack Aylward and Colm Coughlan to keep St. Pat’s scoreless as Alex Conlon and Darragh Perry tacked on some fine points.  The biggest cheer of the game came in the closing stages when Sean Fitzgerald got on the end of a long pass from Cormac Finnegan to slot the ball into the bottom corner of the net as we ran out winners on a 4.8 to 2.0 score line.

The parade was next on the agenda starting at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney to do a lap of the town.  A huge crowd turned out and there was a fantastic atmosphere in the town as all of the teams made their way around in their Club colours. Our lads were well turned out in their new track suits and great credit is due to Uniform World in Monasterevan and Relwal Plastering who sponsored the gear. We are also very grateful to our anonymous sponsor who funded the gear bags to complete the kit.
The word was we were playing Dingle the next morning in the semi-final in Milltown. With so many famous former players coming from that peninsula, we figured we’d be up against it.  However, to come to Kerry and still be kicking on Sunday was an achievement in itself.

Shield Semi Final  –  Abbey Rangers 6.5   Dingle (Kerry) 2.8

A Cian Murtagh goal in the opening minute followed by a Josh Burns point gave us a great start in this game. Ciaran Byrne worked tirelessly around the half forward line and provided much of the ammunition for his fellow attackers.
Alex Conlon’s involvement in the early part of the tournament had been minimal due to sickness but he certainly made up for lost time and netted two excellent goals mid-way through the half. The Kerry men hit back with 1.3 and it could have been worse without a fine save from goalkeeper Tommy White. Points from Daniel Gilbert and Mikey Delahunt pushed us further ahead as we led 3.3 to 1.3 at the break.
An early Dingle goal was quickly cancelled out by goals from Cian Murtagh and Alex Conlon.  Mark O’Donovan added another after Jack Aylward had held off some strong challenges before finding Mark who finished superbly. A brace of points followed from Sean Culleton to put us well ahead but Dingle kept coming at us and scored some fine points from long range to pull themselves back into the game. Thomas Browne was superb in defence in the second half along with Russel Grattan and Darragh Talbot and many Dingle attacks ended with the intervention of this trio. Darragh Byrne won a huge amount of ball in the half forward line and was in hard luck for a goal which he thoroughly deserved. As the clock ticked down the goals proved crucial as we held out for a 6.5 to 2.8 win.

So off we set for Killarney once more. We’d no idea who we were playing and, to be honest, we didn’t care because all we wanted to do at this stage was win it. And we were all in it together – players, mentors, parents, friends – we were all on the same team and everyone wanted to win.

Shield Final  –  Abbey Rangers 5.9   Clondegad (Clare) 1.1

The referee threw the ball up, the Clondegad midfielder caught it and delivered to his full forward – BANG – GOAL – 10 seconds gone and we were a goal down. Disaster! But our lads showed what they’re made of with 1.2 in the next few minutes, the goal coming from corner forward dynamo Alex Conlon.  The Clare men came at us again but Sean McDonald and Sean Culleton were rocks in the Abbey Rangers defence. Aaron O’Connor was having a fine game around the middle of the field and he set up points for Mark O’Donovan and Mikey Delahunt to push us further ahead before another Alex Conlon goal put us 2.6 to 1.0 in front. Thomas Browne finished a winding solo run with a long range point before Clondegad finally managed a second score with a late point to leave it 2.7 to 1.1 at half time.
A hat trick of goals from Mikey Delahunt in the first five minutes of the second half finished the game as a contest. Jack Curran and Sean Fitzgerald came close to adding further goals as Abbey Rangers dominated around the middle of the field with Colm Coughlan, Jack Aylward and Cormac Finnegan picking up lots of possession. Darragh Byrne and Rory McGrath combined to put Daniel Gilbert through for a point and the same player pointed again after Darragh Perry and Jack Aylward had done the spade work.
When the final whistle sounded there were great scenes of joy as the entire panel ran onto the field to share in the glory.  Captain Darragh Perry made his way up the steps to great applause and collected the trophy on behalf of his team mates.
Abbey Rangers V Clondegad-Féile FinalGreat credit is due to all involved with this squad. The players who gave their all, the mentors, Fergal Gilbert, Trevor Holligan, Liam O’Donovan and Gaelin Broughall who looked after them and those who made the trip to Killarney to support them. We are also thankful to former Kildare greats Tadgh Fennin and Johnny Doyle who both did coaching sessions with the lads prior to our trip to Kerry.
In the space of 48 hours, our lads played six games (winning five) and scored 21 goals and 38 points! They came home with a National title which is a huge achievement for an amalgamated club which is just in its second year. Their parent Club’s, Ballykelly and Kildangan, are very proud of them and there is a bright future for this bunch in the years ahead.

Feile Panel;
Ben Keogh, Thomas Browne, Josh Burns, Ciaran Byrne, Colm Coughlan, Sean Culleton, Jack Curran, Mikey Delahunty, Cormac Finnegan, Sean Fitzgerald, Daniel Gilbert, John Kelly, Jack Aylward, Sean Mc Donald, Rory Mc Grath, Cian Murtagh, Aaron O Connor, Darragh Perry, Darragh Talbot, Russell  Gratten, Darragh Byrne, Alex Conlon, Mark O Donovan, Thomas White