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​​​​​Under 20 Championship Quarter-Final

posted 5 Nov 2018, 13:17 by Athlone GAA

Athlone 3-12 Shandonagh 1-8

A clinically taken hat-trick of goals from Stephen O'Connor, allied to a superb defensive performance, gave our U20 team a surprisingly comfortable win against a fancied Shandonagh side in this quarter-final played in Páirc Chiaráin on Saturday afternoon.

Beginning the game with the aid of a strong breeze, Athlone got off to a dream start with a goal straight from the throw-in, when Diarmuid Martin and Shane Allen combined to set up Stephen O'Connor, who finished emphatically.  A long-range Luke Kelly free, followed by a Benny Martin point continued the good start, before O'Connor reacted quickest to a loose ball in the large square for his second goal.  Shandonagh got on the board with a close range free but two well-struck 45's from Luke Kelly and a JJ Offorjama score give Athlone a 10-point lead after 20 minutes.  However, they suffered a setback when Kelly was dismissed for dissent following a second Shandonagh pointed free, and although Daniel Reid replied from distance, the visitors then enjoyed their best spell of the half and added two more frees to reduce the gap as half-time approached.  To their credit though, the Athlone lads rallied and late points from Benny Martin and Shane Allen restored their 10-point advantage at the break, 2-8 to 0-4.

Playing into wind, and a man down, Athlone needed to keep things tight in the opening minutes of the second half, but instead their lead was halved in the first five minutes when some sloppy turnovers led to two pointed frees and a goal from a penalty.  All the momentum now appeared to be with the visitors, but an inspirational score from Shane Allen, followed by Stephen O'Connor's hat-trick goal with another cool finish after a brilliant team move, took the sting out of their comeback.  Josh Beaumont added a point from a free, while it took Shandonagh until the 53rd minute to get their only score from play, a measure of how well the Athlone defence played against their highly-rated opponents.  Further points from JJ Offorjama and Benny Martin put the seal on an impressive all-round performance, as Athlone qualified for an away semi-final against the winner of the quarter-final between The Downs and Caulry, at a time and date to be confirmed.

Athlone:  John Duddy, Joe Devins, James Finlass, Paddy Ryan, Donagh Prendergast, Diarmuid Martin, Paddy McGettigan, Shane Allen (0-2), Daniel Reid (0-1), JJ Offorjama (0-2), Luke Kelly (0-3), Sean Dowd, Josh Beaumont (0-1), Stephen O'Connor (3-0), Benny Martin (0-3) Subs Used:  Conor Rushe, Niall Doolan, Enda Daly.

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