McAuley superb as Bantry Blues roll on

 

With a performance anchored on a splendid goalkeeping display by Des McAuley and wonderful fluid movement in the forwards, Bantry swept past Kerry's Laune Rangers in the quarter-final of the AIB Munster club senior football championship at Wolfe Tone Park yesterday.

Despite the fact that they were not the county champions, Laune Rangers came to Bantry with high hopes of success. However, the Hassett brothers, who recently returned to the intercounty fold, were way off the mark in this game, and only Pa Murphy, Tony Byrne and Russell can look back on this game with any degree of satisfaction.

There was little to choose between the sides in the opening quarter at the end of which they were tied at two points apiece. With players finding it difficult to stay on their feet due to the greasy surface, the 5,214 spectators got little to enthuse about.

However, with Mark O'Connor warming to his task at full back - he struggled in the early exchanges with Mike Frank Russell - Bantry began to string a couple of moves together and in a marvellous 12-minute spell kicked over five points without reply, and the signs looked ominous for Rangers, who were without a score for 10 minutes.

They finally got through for a point in the 29th minute from Russell, but the home side went in at the break leading 0-8 to 0-4.

Laune Rangers started the second half with the Hassett brothers at midfield and Tommy Byrne at centre back, bu it harldy mattered - a jinking run by Eric Sheehan put Michael Moran in for a point to stretch the Blues' lead after just a half a minute to set the tone for the half. A moment of carelessness in their own defence did almost cost Bantry a goal when substitute Andy O'Shea was dispossessed by Mike Hassett, who put Russell through, but Des McAuley denied the Kerry forward with a wonder save.

The goalkeeper came to his side's rescue again in the 45th minute when Billy O'Shea slipped past a couple of defenders but the Bantry man was more than equal to his powerful shot.

A combination of the failure to their forwards to convert the few chances they created and referee who did them no favours as saw Rangers lose the chance of a score when Liam Hassett took too long to kick a free and from the resultant reversal Jeremy Canty stretched Bantry's lead still further.

Every chance the visitors had of getting back into the game finally evaporated when Liam Hassett looked to have done all the work when he rounded McAuley but a superb block by Graham Canty denied him a goal.

After Canty's block the ball came back to Hassett again, but McAuley got back to save.

BANTRY BLUES: D McAuley; N Twomey, M O'Connor, E McCarthy; G Canty, P O'Regan, E Sheehan (0-1); D O'Neill (0-1), M Moran (0- 2); S McCarthy, S Dineen, P O'Rourke (0-2); P Clifford (0-3), J Canty (0-2), D O'Shea (0-3). Sub: A O'Shea for S McCarthy.

LAUNE RANGERS: P Lyons; P Murphy, A Hassett, S O'Sullivan; M O'Connor, J Sheehan, J Lynch (0-1); T Byrne, M Hassett; P Griffin, L Hassett, M F Russell (0-3); G Murphy, P O'Sullivan (0-1), B O'Shea. Subs: J O'Shea for O'Sullivan, P McKenna (0-1) for Griffin.

Referee: K Walsh (Clare).