Gaels Need No Place to ‘Hide



Ranelagh Gaels 1-15
St Sylvester’s 1-12

By Gordon Manning

RANELAGH GAELS’ reputation as ET specialists continued on Thursday night – but the star of the show was Duracell Bunny Barry O’Brien.

Once more the Gaels had to phone home – Smyths – to say they’d be late after O’Brien’s clinically struck injury-time goal forced extra-time against St Sylvester’s in Malahide, 1-11 apiece.

Having clawed back a seven-point second half deficit, the Gaels had all the momentum going into extra-time and dominated to chalk up a second Dublin Junior C Championship win.

Their first win was also after extra-time while the Junior D team went to extra-time against Robert Emmets as well.

Fittingly, Thursday’s victory was achieved in coastal Dublin, because this game was essentially won on the dark winter nights training on Sandymount beach.

Those thankless, wet evenings jogging through the teeth of cutting winds whistling in from the Irish Sea paid off in Malahide where Ranelagh’s superior fitness carried them over the line.

O’Brien’s injury-time goal was the jewel in his sparkling performance – but more than anything this was a victory for team spirit and battling qualities.

The full-back line was solid, Ian Naughton and Fitz got through a huge amount of work at wing-back while Gearoid O’Flynn put in a lung-bursting display all over the field.

With Tom Cusack cleaning up on breaking ball in the first half and Brian Regan and Donie getting their hands on a lot more, the Gaels had most of the early possession.

But they struggled to turn their dominance into scores and a fortuitous goal, after a good initial save by Ronan Rasdale, saw the home side lead by two at the break.

Sylvesters controlled the first ten minutes after the restart – cleverly bringing their big full-forward out around the middle third where they got on top.

Ranelagh were penned into their own end of the pitch during this period and struggled to counter the home side’s tactic.

Sylvester’s started to tire though and Ranelagh began working the ball into their attack again where Johnny Conlon and DOC were threatening.

With three minutes left, and three points between the sides, Conlon opted to try work a goal from a short range free.

But Sylvester’s, who had been reduced to 14 men by that stage, held tight and it appeared the visitors would leave empty handed.

But two minutes into injury-time full-back O’Brien galloped forward and sliced through the defence from the right hand side before unleashing a rasping left foot shot to the back of the net.

O’Brien had spent the previous week pleading his case with manager Liam O’Hagan to be played at full-back.

But having mopped up everything on the edge of the square he then set about stamping his influence on the game around midfield and then in attack. Even in the dying moments of extra-time he was still zipping around the pitch with endless energy.

The Gaels played some of their best football in extra-time and Enda Marren and Donie made telling impacts when introduced on what could yet turn out to be a major win in Ranelagh’s season.

On Thursday they showed a winning mentality and a battling, never-say-die attitude.

And because of that, no longer will others view Ranelagh Gaels as merely a ramshackle soft bunch from the Southside.

The Gaels are contenders now, real contenders.




1 Comment(s)

  1. strong words… softly spoken!

    caoimhe | Jul 20, 2011 @ 12:58 | Reply

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