By Mike Fitzpatrick
Rangers 3-17, Sligo 1-7
Neither side had really stamped their authority on proceedings in the Junior Football A Division this season, and if either Sligo or Rangers wish to make the playoffs and play senior football next season, they both had to win this game to get back on track.
Rangers, always one of the fancied sides to do well in this division, took the game to Sligo from the off. Rangers opened their scoring, thanks to some fine points from Mark Fitzgerald and the on-form Cormac Murray.
Sligo, not to be outdone, matched them with an effort over the bar apiece from Alan Barry and Tony Gallagher. All even then with about ten minutes gone. Both sides threw themselves forward at every opportunity, and although Rangers have had their problems up front this season, they showed no shyness in front of goal on this occasion.
The always reliable Davie Phelan banged another score over for Rangers to give his side the slenderest of leads, though this was almost immediately equalled by Sligo’s Tom McGrath.
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Phelan again gave his side a one point victory, only for Peadar Reynolds to equalize for Sligo once more. After 20 minutes, we were left with a tie which could really have gone either way. At four points apiece, one would have been very brave to tip either side for victory.
Then, from somewhere, Rangers found inspiration. Two points apiece from Peter Devitt and Mike Sheridan gave the Blues a four point lead, which looked to be a healthy winning margin going into the interval until Reynolds sneaked in an opportunist goal for Sligo to bring his side right back into the fray.
Dave Phelan and Cormac Murray finished off the first half, scoring with a point apiece to give Denis Twomey’s men a decent six point lead at the break.
After half time, it became obvious that big Denis had instilled some inspiring words into the hearts of his Rangers men, as Cormac Murray grabbed a goal early in the second half to move the blues seven points clear of Sligo.
Sligo counterattacked at once, and John Williams was forced into making a fabulous save from the shot of Tony Gallagher.
Lady Luck, or rather Sister Skill, was with the Rangers side.
A point apiece from Tony Gallagher and Neil O’Connor brought Sligo back into contention, but after that it was all Rangers. Points from Conor Beggan, Rory Hussey and Mark Fitzgerald began the onslaught, and soon it was Rangers in front by seven points once more.
Mark Fitzgerald hit another goal for the Blues, and it seemed all over.
Rangers eventually ran out as winners by a whopping 16-point margin, which perhaps doesn’t tell the whole story of the game, as Sligo were very much in contention, particularly in the first half, when they matched their opponents score for score.
Sligo are still within a shout of reaching the final four, Rangers, following this triumphant display of attacking football will look forward to their next tie in anticipation.
Rangers: John Williams, Phil Bermingham, Tom Bermingham, Kenneth Geary, Tomas Maher, Kieran Kellegher, Peter Devitt (0-2), Mike Bishop, Rory Hussey (0-1), Mark Fitzgerald (1-3), Conor Beggan (0-3), Mike Sheridan (0-2), Niall Fox, Davie Phelan (1-3), Cormac Murray (1-3). Sub John Murphy
Sligo: John Cribben, Declan Henry, Mike Gilligan, Kevin Hegarty, Keith Barry, Pat Spellman, Kieran Kelly, John Higgins, John Glenn, Peadar Reynolds (1-1), Alan Barry (0-2), Eamonn Duffy, John McVann, Tony Gallagher (0-2), Tom McGrath (0-1). Subs: Peadar O’Toole, Neil O’Connor (0-1), John Naughton.