Enniskillen Rangers 5 Bessbrook United 1

Enniskillen Rangers’ bid for an historic four Junior Cup wins in a row remains on course as a Jason Keenan hat-trick helped defeat Bessbrook United in the Irish Junior Cup semi-final played behind closed doors.

Rangers were the better side throughout and were certainly knocking on the door before two quickfire goals from Jason Keenan and Christopher Currie put them in control.

Bessbrook did pull a goal back with ten to go through Declan Monaghan and the game was certainly in the melting pot at that stage but Keenan settled the ‘Gers’ nerves with a neat finish when played through on goal.

Substitute Stuart Rainey then made it four before Keenan completed his hat-trick when he was bundled over in the box and got up to fire home and seal the win for the ‘Gers.

Rangers will now play Belfast side Willowbank, who defeated NFC Kesh 2-0, in the final on Tuesday, July 28 with a venue to be confirmed

Rangers started well and were on top in the opening quarter.

Scorer of their winning goals in the last two Junior Cup finals, Jason Keenan went closest especially in the opening five minutes when he broke in from the left and worked the ball onto his right foot but Conor Ruddy saved superbly low down to his left.

Rangers were controlling possession in the opening quarter and Keenan produced another save from Ruddy, this time letting fly from 25 yards but the netminder was again equal to the task.

From there to the half time whistle, there was little by way of chances. Mark Cutler having a shot saved by the legs of Ruddy while at the other end Dean McConnell and Declan Monaghan had efforts but failed to find the target as the game remained deadlocked at the break.

Rangers started the second half on the front foot again and James Turley went close with the best chance of the match. The tricky midfielder danced into the Bessbrook box, beating two defenders but his shot was saved again by the excellent Ruddy.

Bessbrook then showed their intent by turning the ball over in midfield and breaking down the right with a superb cross finding Steven Matthews unmarked on the penalty spot but he headed wide from 12 yards out.

The scare seemed to spark Rangers into life and they hit the post twice in as many minutes. First a great one two between Currie and Keenan saw the ball slipped into Cutler who prodded the ball past the keeper but onto the post with the grateful Ruddy falling on the rebound.

Then Kerr, let fly with a superb free kick from wide on the left that crashed off the post following a foul on Keenan.

The pressure finally told midway through the half when Currie’s dangerous cross was palmed out only as far as Keenan, just inside the box and he let fly with a superb shot into the top corner for a deserved lead.

Then the holders quickly doubled their lead as Cutler crossed this time and Currie slotted home with a neat finish at the near post.

The game was far from over and Bessbrook pulled a goal back when Declan Monaghan turned and shot superbly into the top corner from the edge of the box with ten minutes to go.

On a knife edge at this stage, it was Rangers who had that bit extra to seal the game when Keenan was played through by Currie and dummied Ruddy before rolling the ball into the net for 3-1.

Rangers glossed the win with two late goals as substitute Stuart Rainey fired one into the bottom corner and then Keenan sealed the win with a penalty after he was fouled himself.

A good win for Rangers and good game from two teams following the five month hiatus due to the coronavirus.



Enniskillen Rangers: Gareth Barbour, Conor Watson, Richard Johnston, Neil Coulter, Michael Kerr, Mark Cutler, Michael Simpson, Ciaran Smith, Chris Currie, James Turley, Jason Keenan

Bessbrook United: Conor Ruddy, Stephen King, Joshua Byrne, Dermot Fearon, Daniel Monaghan, Steven Matthews, Cian Feehan, Gareth Hughes, Declan Monaghan, Conor Sloan, Dean McConnell