By Mike Fitzpatrick
Rangers 0-9, Down 0-6
Rangers continued their fine run with a win over their Ulster rivals in this junior football Div. 1 clash at Gaelic Park on Sunday.
Rangers, having now won five of their six games, seem destined to go a long way in this year’s championship. Having done well in the regular season in recent years only to slip up in the later stages, Rangers now look good for at least a decent stab at the playoffs.
Denis Tuomey’s men have stepped up a level this year, and have ground out the results against their rivals. The Mournemen have had something of an up and down season, winning two and losing three of their five games played so far, placing them in third position in the table, on equal points with bitter rivals Fermanagh, but having played a game more.
The game itself started as if Rangers were to run riot. Rangers moved onto a comfortable first half lead with points from Mark Fitzgerald, Cormac Murray and Davie Phelan.
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A late revival in the first half brought Down somewhat back into the fray. Some fine ball work from Colm Fagan resulted in his grabbing a couple of points, to bring the Ulster side to within four points.
Down opened the second period on a higher note, and continually pushed forward, though a number of wasted opportunities proved to be their undoing, with the ball sailing either wide, or into the welcoming arms of Rangers backs Mike Rennicks and Malachy McHugh.
Rangers took advantage of their opponents’ shortcomings, and when they purged forward themselves, they had the likes of Phelan, Conor Beggan and Fitzgerald to gleefully force the ball over the bar to bring their side to within sight of another victory.
At full time, it was a deserved three-point victory for The Blues, and though Down will no doubt be disappointed, manager Collie Mathers will have seen a number of improvements throughout his side’s performance, and with a little more luck in their future games, they could well climb back into contention.
Rangers: John Williams, Malachy McHugh, Mike Rennicks, Ray Mannion, Tomas Maher, Ciaran Kelleher, Fintan O’Shea, Rory Hussey, Peter Devitt, Mark Fitzgerald (0-3), Peter Quealy, Conor Beggan (0-1), Cormac Murray (0-2), Davie Phelan (0-2), Mike Sheridan (0-1).
Down: Dougie Markey, Ronan Kearney, John Markey, Gary Rooney, Mary McGivern, Collie Mathers (0-1), Damien Ward, Colm Turley, Chris McManus, Gavin Barry, Martin Middleton, Martin Rooney, Singer O’Hare, Colm Fagan (0-5), Paul Kearns.