Hair-raising: Rangers' defender Mark Hannigan outjumps Tramore's Willie Cullinane to win this header.  | Photos: Noel Browne

Hair-raising: Rangers' defender Mark Hannigan outjumps Tramore's Willie Cullinane to win this header. | Photos: Noel Browne

Tramore Rangers 4;   Tramore 2

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Tramore Rangers kicked off the new season in riveting style when they beat their local rivals Tramore AFC in a dramatic Division 1A derby at ‘The Orchard’ last Friday night.

Eoin Purcell and James Legg scored a brace apiece for the winners but the undoubted hero was 16-year-old ’keeper Killian Burns who pulled off two outstanding penalty saves, both in the second half.

These matches often don’t live up to their billing but this one had everything on what was an idyllic evening at Newtown. Yet the opening 10 minutes or so were utterly uneventful, with not a hint of what was to follow as the sides sussed each other out.

But it wasn’t long before Rangers drew first blood. Striker Eoin Purcell took a quick throw well inside his own half to set James Legg free down the left and when he crossed low into the area who was there to meet it only Purcell, who stroked the ball clinically into the bottom right corner.

The ‘men in black’ were well in control for the next quarter-of-an-hour, playing neat patterns through midfield, while Mark Hannigan and Chris Kirk were particularly dominant at the back.

Rangers’ left winger Niall Jackman seized on an opening right through the middle of the Tramore defence on 17 minutes but fired his shot straight down ’keeper Philip Tobin’s throat.

Three minutes later Tramore left-full Ian Stenson, who was seeing a lot of the ball, pulled a shot tamely wide of the far post after a Thomas Ryan cross came to him on the edge of the box.

Drifting wide right after getting little joy infield, where he’d been having a running battle with Hannigan, Ryan was now causing problems for the Rangers defence, picking up possession and putting crosses into the danger area.

After 22 minutes one such delivery was cushioned down nicely by Conan Power to Gary Hunt whose dipping right-foot volley from the edge of the area was brilliantly tipped onto the bar by teenage ’keeper Killian Burns who recovered to collect the follow-up.

The writing was on the wall, mind, and Tramore drew level five minutes before half-time. A corner kick taken by Ryan came back out to him and his viciously in-swinging cross could only be palmed down by Burns and as the ball fell to Stenson at the back stick he had little trouble tucking it into the net.

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