Kerry FC have booked their place in the 2nd Round of the Sports Direct FAI Cup after an emphatic 2-0 win in Mounthawk Park last evening over Cork’s Ringmahon Rangers
By David Moriarty. Photos by Adam Kowalczyk
Another historic night beckoned for Kerry FC as they played in the FAI Cup for the first time at senior level against Cork side Ringmahon Rangers. Ringmahon play their games in the Munster Senior Premier Division. They got to this game tonight through a 1-0 win in the preliminary round over Leinster side Killester Donneycarney. The FAI Cup is a chance for Kerry to break away from what has been a very tough league campaign to date and Kerry fans were hopeful they could start that on a positive note.
Ahead of the cup tie Kerry FC manager, Billy Dennehy, talked about the tough opposition in Ringmahon and how the Munster Senior League operates at an extremely high level. He also talked about how at the start of the year everyone kept their eye out for the FAI cup dates as they are the favourites for everyone in the dressing room and everyone around the club. Dennehy said he can take more positives than negatives of how his side are playing since the summer break and hopes that will continue for the remainder of the season.
Kerry were unlucky last week away to Longford as they came away with a 2-1 loss. With the four new signings in the starting line-up, you could see a difference in how they played as they were pressing higher and forcing mistakes out of the Town defence. Coming into the cup game they will be hoping for more.
Ringmahon started the game on the front foot and pressured Kerry on every touch off the ball, showing early on it certainly would not be an easy night for Kerry. Anthony Whitehead was put into the book early for a late shoulder into the chest of Ronan Teahan, giving the Kingdom another reminder, this would be no pushover.
Ringmahon’s pressure nearly gave them an early lead with a long range shot from Evan Galvin from 25 yards out. The shot on his right boot nearly curled into the top left corner before the upright kept the effort at bay. Kerry started quiet and needed to up their game to threaten this strong rebel side.
Another yellow was picked up for Ringmahon as Mark Horgan completely took out Daniel Okwute about twenty-eight yards from goal. The free kick would subsequently be taken by Leo Gaxha and went just over Eric Grimes’ bar in the Ringmahon goal.
Kerry started to come back into the game halfway into the first period and tried to put a few passes together. They were rewarded with a few corners in quick succession but were unfortunately unable to capitalise on the set piece chances.
The Kingdoms first big chance came in the thirty seventh minute when Leo Gaxha used his tricky feet out on the left side of the box to find space to get a cross into Daniel Okwute whose header went just over the bar. They were finding good space out the wings, and you felt if they kept to that practice a goal could come from that same remedy.
As the half ended the two teams were quite even, and it looked like it would be a single goal that could separate two sides that were defending terrifically.
Kerry started the second half on the front foot with Leo Gaxha having an effort go over the bar from just six yards out. The ball landed to him awkwardly and to make any connection with it at all was a success. Daniel Okwute made himself a great presence driving from deep with the ball and finding options out wide which is something Kerry have struggled to find this season.
Coming into the hour mark the game was starting to get a bit scrappy. The ball seemed to be in the air too much and not enough on the deck. With a tough night of weather this route of play was expected. The team with the wind would take advantage of the ball over the top and create the most chances. Ringmahon used it in the first half, and it was Kerry’s chance in the second half to utilise it and hopefully get ahead through it.
Fifteen minutes to go in the game and Kerry started to dominate possession. They would get their reward through none other than Ryan Kelliher, proving he perhaps should have started in the eleven. A few passes between Rob Vasiu and Cian Brosnan led to a pass inside to Sean McGrath. McGrath found an area to feed the ball into Kelliher just outside the box and the Killarney man would slot the ball into the back of the bottom right corner giving the Kingdom the lead.
The momentum was totally on Kerry’s side in the late stages and showed their own league of Ireland experience as Ringmahon started to get visibly tired. That extra fitness and experience paid off as Kerry would double their lead with seven minutes to go. Leo Gaxha again finding space out the left to put in a low cross that would be blocked and ricocheted back out to Ryan Kelliher who would then finish to get his second goal since coming on.
Kerry looked to be well on their way to their first home win of the season and to advance to the last sixteen of the FAI Cup and that they did. A historic night for the Mount Hawk faithful as this was a night Kerry FC had been looking forward to for a long time. No matter the level of opposition, Ringmahon tested Kerry in large parts of the game and Kerry had to earn their result and they did just that.
Kerry now look forward to a charity game against Killarney Celtic during the week and Finn Harps at home again next Friday where they can hopefully keep this winning momentum.
Kerry FC Team:
32. Lee Axworthy, 3. Sean O’Connell, 18. Sam Aladesanusi, 5. Ethan Kos, 22. Cian Barret, 17. Nathan Gleeson, 23. Ronan Teahan, 19. Martin Coughlan, 10. Leo Gaxha (C), 7. Sean McGrath, 21. Daniel Okwute
Subs: Aaron O’sullivan, Rob Vasiu, Alex Ainscough, Kevin Williams, Matt Keane, Ryan Kelliher (Goal ‘75, ‘83), Togor Silong, Cian Brosnan, Jonathan Hannafin
Ringmahon Rangers FC Team:
1. Eric Grimes, 2. Ewan Lee, 3. Adam Delurey, 4. Adam Whitehead, 5. Mark Horgan, 6. Philip Keane, 7. Jamie O’Sullivan, 8. Alan Happi, 9. Stephen Kenny, 10. Anthony McAlavey (C), 11. Evan Galvin
Subs: Ross Cronin, Jack Cairns, Christopher Hull, Cameron Harlson, Adam O’Callaghan, Gearoid Morrissey, Stephen Kennedy Osubor, Aaron Ahern