The Rosscarbery side’s report card could be marked ‘average’ following their first ever foray into the Munster Club SFC: Elements of positive attacking football aligned with some slack defending and married to some poor option-taking.
It’s a report card their manager, Ronan McCarthy, will spend numerous training sessions fine-tuning between now and a semi-final meeting with the Waterford champions in just under two weeks.
“I think we got the job done. We didn’t play that well,” said McCarthy. “We had that period ten minutes before the end of the first half where we go on top and made it count. That gave us a bit of a cushion that we never relinquished. We fell back a bit in the second half and invited them on but we had enough of a lead that we were never in danger.”
After the emotional high of winning a first Cork SFC only a fortnight ago, coming back down to earth and heading into new terrain was always going to take adjusting for Carbery Rangers.
However, they negotiated this hurdle without ever being forced into fourth gear against a disappointing and off-colour Monaleen side.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said McCarthy. “You’ve huge emotion after winning the county championship for the first time. Coming down off that and building back up for Munster, we were uncertain as to what to expect.
“The lads came in on the Friday after the county, but we were never going to perform to the levels we did in Cork. But we got the job done and we’re still on track.”
There were periods when Rangers played some splendid football — backs pushing forward to assist a forward unit in which Alan Jennings and Chris O’Donovan excelled.
It was this duo’s workrate that caught the eye while future opposition will also have noted not only the attacking verve of the Rangers’ half-backs but their full-back line, two of whom careered forward to land the sort of points their inside triumvirate are more noted for.
And while Ross weren’t forced into much panic defending, they might have been sweating after a minute’s play had Brian O’Donovan been more ruthless in front of goal. After the corner-forward made a brilliant solo run, Paul Shanahan brought off a fine save, one of many the Rangers’ custodian managed throughout the game.
Carbery settled and, by the 24th minute, had racked up their sixth point, the inside forward line of John O’Rourke and Seamus and John Hayes creating problems for an overworked Monaleen fullback line.
Ger Collins then registered Monaleen’s second before Rangers carved open the Limerick club’s defence when Alan Jennings finished a crossbar rebound (from a John Hayes shot) to the net. Two further points, from the excellent Michael Kelly and man of the match Chris O’Donovan, provided the Cork champions with a comfortable 1-8 to 0-3 half-time platform on which to build for victory.
It got worse for Monaleen a minute after the restart when Finbarr Nash hauled John Hayes down inside the square. Nash was black-carded and John Hayes stepped forward to coolly slot the spot-kick beyond Donal O’Sullivan.
At this point it looked game, set, and match to the Ross side, but they failed to press home their footballing superiority in this third quarter, instead ending some good build-up play with poor shooting, kicking five successive attempts at the posts wide of the target.
In the meantime, Monaleen chipped away at the lead and displayed fighting spirit to carve open point-scoring opportunities for Collins, Paul Kinnerk, and Tony Barry.
Monaleen did manage to narrow the margin to eight points (2-8 to 0-6) on 46 minutes and were unlucky not to goal when Paul Shanahan brought off a spectacular save in the 49th minute.
Both sides emptied their benches in the closing ten minutes and Rangers benefitted. Once again they began to stamp their superiority around midfield where Kevin McMahon finished strongly but it was their defenders who caught the eye in front of goal, with Brian Shanahan and Jerry O’Riordan marauding forward to clip over some lovely points that demonstrated the gulf in class between these two sides.
Goalkeeper Paul Shanahan was one of Rangers’ best performers and is delighted to be still in contention for Munster honours. “We knuckled back to business three days after winning the county championship. There was bound to be a lot of emotion — we’d been knocking on the door a long time,” he said.
“Monaleen are a very good side. Coming to play here is not an easy place and we knew Monaleen would be physical. It’s great to get out of here with a comprehensive victory. Once we settled and got our match-ups right we knew we could push on. It was very similar to the Avondhu game. We knew the first ten minutes after half-time were vital. John put away a great penalty and though we slackened off for a while, we finished strongly.”
J Hayes (1-3, 1-0 pen, 2 frees); A Jennings (1-0); J O’Rourke, C O’Donovan (0-2 each); S Hayes, M Kelly, J O’Riordan and B Shanahan (0-1 each).
G Collins (0-3, 2 frees); B Fitzpatrick, P Kinnerk, T Barry and N Loughran (0-1 each)
P Shanahan; M Kelly, B Shanahan, R Hegarty; R Kiely, T O’Rourke, J O’Riordan; K McMahon, J Fitzpatrick; A Jennings, C O’Donovan, M Mennis; J O’Rourke, S Hayes, J Hayes.
A Roche for J Fitzpatrick (41); K Fitzpatrick for S Hayes (46); S Murray for R Hegarty (51); P Hodnett for Mennis (54); S O’Neill for C O’Donovan; M Ronan for J Hayes (58).
D O’Sullivan (jc); C Moran, J O’Dwyer, E Quinlan; P Quinn, J Hoare, S Cusack; B Fitzpatrick, R McGrath; D Enright, L Kavanagh, E Doyle; B O’Donovan, G Collins, G O’Connell (jc).
F Nash for Cusack (29); P Kinnerk for Kavanagh (30); R Murray for Nash (black card); T Barry for Quinlan (37); J Kelly for Quinn (inj. 42); N Loughran for Fitzpatrick (51).
R Hickey (Clare)