The final encounter of the third round was an eagerly anticipated one and while it was short on free-flowing football, it certainly didn’t lack for effort.
It was the home side’s biggest win since their All-Ireland Intermediate Club victory in Croke Park 18 months ago.
Peter Crowley’s return from inter-county duty failed to help Rangers repeat their surprise victory over Kerins O’Rahillys in the opening round last month.
Shane Murphy gave the home side a dream start with a goal after only four minutes but Rangers stayed in the game up to half-time, courtesy of Mike Frank Russell’s accuracy from frees.
The former Kerry star put over two fine efforts from near the sideline but Laune Rangers suffered a big blow after 22 minutes when one of their more consistent performers, Kieran Crowley, had to go off injured. Russell’s fourth free in the 27th minute would be the Killorglin side’s last score for 26 minutes as the home side dominated.
The frustration Rangers were suffering was best illustrated after Russell’s free when he lost his normally impeccable discipline and got involved with Shane Murphy and duly received a yellow card, as did Mike Burke who was the third man into the scuffle.
Ian Twiss and the impressive Cathal Moriarty helped Milltown/Castlemaine to a 1-6 to 0-6 lead at half-time and even though the second half lacked scores, it certainly did not lack passion. Despite some high challenges and a number of flashpoints throughout the match both teams finished with 15 men as the home side were driven on by Damian Murphy, Mike Burke and Donal Kelliher in particular.
A point from Kelliher and three frees from the Twiss’ (two for Ian, one for Derek) had Milltown/Castlemaine 1-10 to 0-6 in front with eight minutes left. Russell finished with six frees but a point from goalscorer Murphy was enough to calm his side’s nerves as Peter Crowley set up Shane McSweeney for what proved a consolation score for the visitors.
Scorers for Milltown/Castlemaine: S Murphy (1-1) C Moriarty (0-3), I Twiss (0-3, 3f), M Burke (0-1), P Wren (0-1), D Kelliher (0-1) and D Twiss (0-1,1f)
Scorers for Laune Rangers: MF Russell (0-6, 6f), S McSweeney (0-2) and K Flynn (0-1)
MILLTOWN/CASTLEMAINE: J Daly; N Colgan, D Murphy, J Blennerhassett; J O’Connor, M Mangan, N Wrenn; M Burke, D Kelliher; C McKenna, S Murphy, P Wren; C Moriarty, J Flynn, I Twiss.
Subs: D Twiss for Flynn, K McKenna for C McKenna and P Carroll for J O’Connor.
LAUNE RANGERS: T Lyons; K Sheehan, C O’Riordan, K O’Sullivan; G O’Mahony, K Crowley, S McSweeney; P Crowley, M Healy; M Foley, J Sheehan, P Sheehan; MF Russell, K Flynn, J Carey.
Subs: R Keane for M Crowley, J O’Connor for P Sheehan, T Walsh for M Healy and B O’Sullivan for Carey
Referee: C O Dubhda (An Gaeltacht).