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13/9/217 Junior Championship Quarter Final

posted 18 Sep 2017, 15:06 by Athlone GAA
Athlone 1-21 Delvin 2-10 (AET)

Our junior men's team qualified for the club's first junior championship semi-final in a long time, with a hard-fought extra time victory over a brave Delvin side in Kinnegad on Wednesday evening.

Athlone started very brightly and, on the back of some superb fielding by Diarmuid Martin in midfield, raced into a five point lead with fine scores from Benny Martin, Darren Costello, Sean Dowd, Richie Greene and Joe Fallon.  The sides then exchanged frees and Luke Kelly pulled off a couple of fine saves, before Delvin got back into the game with a goal from a penalty.  Further points from Joe Fallon and Michael Doolan restored Athlone's lead, but several other chances to stretch the lead were squandered, and they were dealt a major blow on the stroke of half time when a high ball into the square was flicked to the net for Delvin's second goal to leave the sides level at the break, 0-8 to 2-2.

Rocked by this late goal, Athlone started the second half nervously and trailed to a Devlin '45 before Dermot Bannon finally opened their account after 10 minutes play.  Points from Sean Dowd and Richie Greene were answered by similar Delvin scores, as the sides went tit-for-tat until the 50th minute, when a quick brace from Greene, followed by another point by Darren Costello, seemed to put Athlone into a winning position.  Unfortunately, with the finish line in site, the nerves returned and another Delvin point left just two between them as the game entered injury time.  It still looked like Delvin would need a goal to salvage something from the game, but with the Athlone defence falling very deep to try to prevent this, they were able to pick off two excellent long range points, the second with the final kick of the game, to force extra time.  The score at the end of normal time was 0-14 to 2-8.

It would have been understandable if Athlone were deflated after having victory snatched from their grasp, but they began extra time with great purpose and Darren Costello put them back in front with a free in the opening minute.  Athlone then got what was to prove to be the game's crucial score when Costello cut in along the end line and sent the ball across for Declan Byrne to fist home from close range.  A Delvin free kept them in touch, but a superb solo effort from Richie Greene gave Athlone a four point advantage at the mini-break (1-16 to 2-9).  The same player added two more fine scores at the start of the second extra time period, and despite another Delvin free, Athlone's fitness and strong bench told as Delvin tired and further points from David Cleary, Richie Greene and Declan Byrne gave them a slightly flattering 1-21 to 2-10 win to set up a TEG Cusack Park semi-final against Multyfarnham.

Athlone:  Luke Kelly, Shane Galvin, Andy Lynam, Eoin Fahey, Eoin Jordan, Emmet Collins, Michael Doolan (0-1), Diarmuid Martin, Colin O'Leary, Sean Dowd (0-2), Dermot Bannon (0-1), Darren Costello (0-3), Joe Fallon (0-2), Benny Martin (0-1), Richie Greene (0-9) Subs Used:  Rory Donnellan, Shane Kilroy-Glynn, Luke Dully, Declan Byrne (1-1), David Cleary (0-1), Aidan St John.