After a five-year hiatus, Milltown/Castlemaine lifted the Michael O’Connor Cup as they defeated Laune Rangers by a single point in this Mid Kerry SFC final in Glenbeigh.
It was a well contested final between two youthful teams and after a stirring opening half of quality football, Milltown/Castlemaine held a slender one-point lead, 2-6 to 0-11.
Rangers led 0-4 to 0-1 after ten minutes with Kerry minor and U-20 star Fiachra Clifford scoring three for the Killorglin side.
Jonathan O’Sullivan closed the gap to two before Cathal Moriarty was hauled down in the 15th minute for a penalty which he duly dispatched to the Rangers net. Donal Dennehy then pushed Milltown two clear as the sides began to trade points.
But again it was Moriarty who collected from Dylan O’Neill in the 21st minute to blast the ball to Rangers net and suddenly Milltown/Castlemaine were four clear.
Rangers railed before half-time thanks to Clifford, Darragh O’Sullivan, and ’keeper Jason Browne with a ’45 to retire just a point adrift.
Fiachra Clifford with two points on resumption had Laune Rangers in front but then they lost Shane McSweeney to a red card midway through the second half and Milltown/Castlemaine, with O’Sullivan to the fore, moved three clear approaching injury time.
They clung on despite late Rangers points by Patrick and Jonathan Carey to reclaim the title by the minimum for the first time since 2014.
Milltown/Castlemaine; C Moriarty (2-2), J O’Sullivan (0-4,1 free), P Wrenn, K Carroll, D Roche, D Dennehy and D O’Neill (0-1 each).
Laune Rangers: F Clifford (0-8, 5’f’s), P Carey (0-2), J Browne (1 '45), J Tyther, K Doona, D O’Sullivan, S Doona, and J Carey (0-1 each)
MILLTOWN/CASTLEMAINE: C Leane; C O’Connor, T McCarthy, S Roche; J Hayes, P Wrenn, Kieran Carroll; David Roche, D Dennehy; C Counihan, J O’Sullivan, K Kerins; C Moriarty, J Flynn, D O’Neill.
Subs: G Horan for Flynn (44), G McKenna for S Roche (51), D Murphy for Counihan (61).
LAUNE RANGERS: J Browne; D Costelloe, S Arthurs, D Mangan; C Johnston, S McSweeney, P Carey; J O’Connor, J Tyther; M O’Connor, K Doona, D O’Sullivan; F Clifford, R Moriarty, S Doona.
Subs: D Cleary for S. Doona (H/T), Eric Dunlea for K Doona (49), J Carey for Moriarty (57), C O’Mahony for P Carey (61).
Referee: P Hayes (Kerins O’Rahilly’s)