By Mike Fitzpatrick
Rangers 0-11, Fermanagh 0-5 It’s always an honor to be involved in the opening game of the New York GAA season, and the two Junior A teams involved here exemplified that with a fine flowing game of Gaelic football at Gaelic Park on Sunday. On a blustery day in the Bronx, the crowd witnessed a competitive fixture between two sides eager to open the season on a winning note.
Rangers began on the attack immediately, hoping to erase the disappointment of last season, when they started so well but, thanks to a spectacular fall from grace, were outclassed by a strong Mayo side. Dave Phelan opened the scoring for Denis Tuomey’s side with a well-taken point early in the first half, but Fermanagh showed just how threatening they could be on the counterattack, with Joe Mulligan charging forward only to see his effort bounce off the post and into the safety conscious hands of Rangers goalkeeper John Williams. Williams punted the ball forward, where the Rangers midfield of Dave Ryan and Mike Bishop cleverly played a few passes resulting in a fine point from Bishop to give Rangers a 2-point lead.
Fermanagh midfielder Philip Mallon shot one back for his side after his side had come close with three efforts that sailed narrowly wide, one a fabulously taken snapshot from Joe Mulligan. Another effort from Mallon saw a goal-line scramble which was luckily cleared up by Rangers on form goalkeeper John Williams and full back Malachy McHugh.
Rangers’ Andrew Brady gave his side a further lead with a nice point resulting from a good pass from Dave Ryan, and Fermanagh’s Mallon quickly replied to bring his side back into the tie. A flurry of action finished off the first half with both sides attempting to grab control of this evenly sided game, but it was Rangers who began to maintain leadership.
A fantastic run from Bishop saw the ball sail effortlessly over the bar, and this was followed by the on-form Dave Phelan, who grabbed two more to further his tally for the game. Michael McGovern shot wide for Fermanagh, though Mallon did manage to hit one back for his side to go in at halftime trailing by four points.
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The second half opened on a slightly less frantic pace. Both sides brought on fresh legs in the form of Seamus Kiernan for Rangers and Damian Doherty for Fermanagh. Phelan hit another two for Rangers, really showing his class with a very well-struck second point. This was followed by an effort by Joe Moloney, who with the goal at his mercy, was somehow prevented by scoring a three-pointer by the Fermanagh defense.
Mallon and Dave Barry shot two points in for Fermanagh, but after this it was all Rangers. The Ulster side came out fighting after the interval, but Rangers counterattacking killed off their efforts. After a number of bookings for Rangers, Bishop and Bermingham, Dave Ryan and Andrew Brady hit a final two points to give Rangers the win, and Fermanagh will look to their next tie to pick things up again.
Rangers: John Williams, Malachy McHugh, Mike Renniks, John Cregan, Thomas Maher, Thomas Bermingham, Sean Concannon, Mike Bishop (0-2), Dave Ryan (0-1), Andrew Brady (0-2), Dave Phelan (0-5), Mike Sheridan, Fintan O’Shea, Joe Moloney (0-1), John Murphy. Sub: Seamus Kiernan.
Fermanagh: Sean Mohan, Noel McGovern, Ciaran Lee, Gene Mulligan, Vincent Cull, Eamonn Cassidy, Darren Boyle, Paul McGuirk, Philip Mallon (0-4), Joe Mulligan, Paul Daly, Aidan Barry (0-1), Michael McGovern, Fergus Bogue, Micheál McMahon. Sub: Damian Doherty.