WITH just five games to go, Rathkeale are now eight points clear in the Premier Division after their 4-2 victory at home to Glin Rovers.
The title is far from secure yet, however, as the three other contenders, reigning Champions Abbeyfeale United, Newcastle West Rovers and Broadford United, all have one or two games in hand.
Rathkeale got off to a great start against Glin, opening the scoring in the 10th minute. Jack Hennessy crossed from the left, finding Davy Lyons who headed the ball down for Pa Ahern to swivel and fire past goalkeeper Mike Stack.
However, the lead only lasted two minutes. Darren Sheehan was fouled in the penalty area and his brother Paul stepped up to take the spot-kick.
His initial effort was saved by Brendan Carmody but he reacted quickly to the loose ball and scored on the rebound.
Ahern was in great form for Rathkeale and he was the main difference between the two sides on the day.
He restored the home team’s lead in the 26th minute when he drilled left-footed low and hard past Stack from 22 yards after a knockdown by striking partner, Declan Nash.
Rathkeale really took a stranglehold on the game with further goals in the 37th and 39th minutes. Ahern was involved in the first of them, passing to Hennessy who squared for the in-rushing Davy Lyons to flick past Stack.
The fourth goal came when Shane Culhane, under pressure from Nash, headed past his own keeper in trying to deal with a high looping ball from midfield by Keith Harnett.
Mindful of their famous comeback in the Desmond Cup Final last season when they came from 2-0 down at half-time.
Glin didn’t lie down in the second-half and deservedly pulled a goal back in the 69th minute when Darren Sheehan passed to Gary Culhane who unleashed a 28-yard half-volley that flew in off the left-hand post.
Rathkeale steadied the ship after that, though they would have had to endure an anxious finish but for Carmody making an excellent save from Gary Culhane in the 90th minute.
Rathkeale: Brendan Carmody, Patrick Wilmott, Alan O’Shea, Darren Jones, Sean O’Shea, Davy Lyons, Keith Harnett, Gary Enright, Jack Hennessy, Pa Ahern, Declan Nash. Subs: Eoin O’Donnell for Lyons (68 mins), David Mooney for Nash (76 mins), Colin Barry for Hennessy (89 mins), Kevin Shanahan.
Glin Rovers: Mike Stack, James Wallace, Shane Culhane, Tadhg Culhane, Tommy Culhane, Joe Martin, Brian O’Donovan, Gary Culhane, John Wallace, Paul Sheehan, Darren Sheehan. Subs: Stephen Barrett for John Wallace, inj (46 mins), Oliver Wallace for Martin (58 mins), Fergal Fitzgerald for S. Culhane (68 mins).
Referee: Paul O’Brien
Premier Division League Cup Semi Final
Abbeyfeale Utd 3 Newcastle West 0
Youths Division 1 Placing Playoff
Broadford Utd 3 AK Utd 1
Youths League Cup Division 1
Newcastle West Rovers 0 GB Rovers 5; Carrig Celtic 1 Rathkeale AFC 5
Youths League Cup Division 2
Askeaton AFC w/o from Athea Utd; Abbeyfeale Utd 2 Pallaskenry AFC 1
Desmond Cup Third Round
Broadford Utd 4 Newcastle West Rovers 1
Division 1 League Cup Quarter Final
Pallaskenry AFC 3 Breska Rovers 5 aet
Rathkeale AFC 4 Glin Rovers 2; Carrig Celtic 0 Abbeyfeale Utd 1; Athea Utd 3 Ballingarry AFC 2
Feenagh 3 AK Utd 2; Shannonside FC 0 Granagh Utd 2
St. Itas 1 Newcastle West Rovers B 1; Glin Rovers B 2 Askeaton AFC 0; Shountrade AFC 1 Adare Utd 1
Division 3 League Cup
Glantine B 1 Knockaderry AFC 1; Ferry Rangers 2 Newcastle West B 2; Carrig Celtic B 2 Creeves Celtic 0