Had Rangers won this tie, they would have done themselves the huge favor of being the first side of any code or division to have qualified for this year’s playoffs. Westput, however, put up a spirited performance and prevented Denis Tuomey’s junior footballers from doing so. Rangers, though not particularly performing to their full potential, have still garnered wins from their previous games.
Westput, on the other hand, have had something of a topsy-turvy season so far. Having defeated Dublin by a healthy margin early on in the season, they then suffered an embarrassing defeat to their upstate neighbors, Rockland, where they lost by 20 points and failed to register a single point. They have clearly missed prolific scorer Danny Leavy, and when his name was again missing from their starting lineup, it was unsure exactly how they would perform in front of goal.
Westput, to be honest, entered this game as severe underdogs, so it was something of a shock when they began to take control in the early stages of the tie. A goal from veteran forward Kevin McManus had Rangers on the ropes, and a trio of accurate efforts from the on form Ronan McCaffery before the break clearly set out the message to Rangers that they had a fight on their hands. Rangers fought back, and points from Mike Sheridan, Rory Hussy and the ever dependable Dave Phelan brought them back into the tie.
At halftime, Westput, perhaps a little surprisingly if recent form is taken into consideration, led the Rangers side by a solitary point, McManus’s goal proving to be hugely important. After the break, the tie swung much the same
way, with Rangers taking a little more control, but still unable to prevent McCaffery and his teammate Ronan Golding from hitting points for their side. A few changes in personnel by Westput provided fresh legs in vital parts of the field, and though Phelan and Sheridan stepped up a gear or two, Rangers were still unable to shake off the Westput threat. Rangers will be a little disappointed with the final outcome, where despite scoring more points in the second half, they still were unable to move into a commanding position, and Tuomey’s men will have to put the champagne on ice for a little longer. Westput did themselves proud, though, and a few more performances like this one, and it will be difficult to believe that this was the side who failed to score in their game versus Rockland a couple of weeks back.
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Rangers: John Williams, Bernard Madden, Mike Rennicks, Phil Bermingham, Barry Harney, Tom Bermingham, Sean Concannon, Tomas Maher (0-1), Rory Hussy (0-1), Mike Sheridan (0-4), Dave Ryan (0-1), Con Power, John Murphy, Dave Phelan (0-3), Cormac Murray. Sub: Anthony Brady (0-1).
Westput Gaels: Tommy Feighery, Neil McMahon, Sean Burke, Mike Burke, Mike Deere, John Higgins, Peter Brennan, Jimmy Burke (0-1), Conall Martin, James Staunton, Ronan McCaffery (0-4), Ronan Golding (0-3), Sean Cox, Kevin McManus (1-0), Sean Brennan. Subs: Jimmy Cauldwell, Finbarr Craughwell, Karil Hynes.