WITH so many players unavailable to both teams, Tuesday evening’s Kennedy Cup Final at Crawford’s Lane proved something of a phoney war, however, there is no doubting that the champions Rangers sent their supporters home the happier.
That’s not just because Michael Kerr had put another trophy in The Ball Range cabinet but because they had been given a little glimpse into the future post-William Burleigh, David Crozier and Jerome Carleton.
And they may have liked what they saw. Rangers’ strength in depth has been a key factor in their recent success and that was again very evident on Tuesday evening against a Tummery Athletic side missing the McNabbs, Emmett and Ronan, among a number of others.
It’s hard to read much into the final score line although it is worth remembering that last season Rangers also won this fixture 1-0 and went on to complete an Irish Junior Cup and Mercer League double. Whether history repeats itself remains to be seen.
It’s worth reiterating that this was shadow boxing at it’s best given the missing personnel, however, as a new season dawns there exists a narrative that both Rangers and Tummery won’t quite be the forces to be reckoned with and that the likes of Strathroy Harps and Enniskillen Town are better equipped to close the gap.
Tuesday evening’s joust will do little to dispel that particular theory as Rangers prepare to open the defence of their title at Beragh Swifts on Saturday while Gerry Love’s Tummery Athletic will host NFC Kesh.
The bad news for Love is that goalkeeper Tim Harney is a doubt after limping out of the action early doors while Gary Lynch and Aidy McCaffrey will also be missing after seeing red in this encounter. Lynch picked up two yellows while a needless tackle resulted in McCaffrey being given his marching orders by referee Louise Thompson late on.
Rangers didn’t get away injury free either with Stephen Chambers coming off the bench with barely four minutes on the clock after experienced defender Neil Coulter picked up a knock.
For the record Rangers goals were scored by Jason Keenan (2) and Mark Cutler with the second of their four an own goal. Athletic’s consolation was scored by Blain Campbell.
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