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ACFL Divion 4 Final

posted 4 Jul 2018, 15:06 by Athlone GAA
DIV 4 FINAL  - Cusack Park, Mullingar, 30 June 2018

Athlone 4-9 Mullingar Shamrocks 0-9  

A blistering first half performance, which saw them score four excellent goals, set our Division 4 team on their way to a surprisingly comfortable win against Mullingar Shamrocks in the league final, played in the now commonplace perfect sunny conditions in Cusack Park, Mullingar, on Saturday evening.

Athlone signalled their intent straight from the throw-in, when Kieran Colclough powered through the centre of the Shamrocks defence before setting up Benny Martin, who blasted home an excellent goal to give his side a dream start.  Richie Greene then added two fine points from play, before getting in behind the full-back and rounding the goalkeeper for the second goal, to give his side a scarcely believable eight-point lead after barely five minutes play.  Despite being shell-shocked from this opening blitz, Shamrocks began to settle and, after they had opened their account from a free, they got the chance to bring themselves right back into the game, when they were awarded a penalty when Matthew Darling was adjudged to have illegally stopped an attack in the area.  Fortunately for Athlone, Conor Devaney pulled off a superb save high to his left to keep out the spot kick and preserve his side's lead.  The Mullingar men did continue have most of the possession in the middle period of the half, but were unable to create any clear opportunities against a tigerish Athlone defence, and instead the next scores came from the Shannonsiders, through a superb Kieran Colclough point from out on the wing, followed by solo score from Emmet Collins direct from the subsequent kickout.  Shamrocks responded with a pointed 45, after Devaney had pulled off another excellent save, but Athlone had rediscovered their groove and added a third goal with five minutes remaining in the half.  David Fagan was unlucky to see his long-range effort for a point come back off the post, but Benny Martin snaffled the rebound and released Shane Allen, who set up Richie Greene to palm home at the far post.  This scoring sequence was repeated just before half-time when Mullingar's third score from a placed ball was answered by Greene's hat-trick goal, when he finished coolly to the net to complete another flowing move and give his side 13-point lead at the break, 4-4 to 0-3.

After such an impressive first half, it was understandable that the performance level dropped slightly in the early stages of the second period, although Athlone did have early chances to stretch their lead before Mullingar opened the scoring from a free.  This was followed by three rapid points from play as they finally found their range, but Ryan Gaffey settled Athlone's nerves with a fine outside of the boot effort in the 40th minutes.  The same player then added a free and his third point on the trot soon after restored his side's four goal advantage as the Mullingar comeback wilted in the heat, and, after Richie Greene had opened his second half account from a free, Shane Allen closed the scoring for Athlone in injury time, although Shamrocks did have the final word with a well-struck 45 to leave the final score 4-9 to 0-9 in Athlone's favour.

In what was a nice gesture by the County Board, Athlone captain Jack Quinn was presented with the cup by club stalwart Liam Finnegan, while the Board also deserve credit for creating a sense of occasion about the league finals through their recent initiative of hosting them as double-headers in Cusack Park.

Athlone:  Conor Devaney, James Finlass, Tom Egan, Danny Lynam, Andy Lynam, Matthew Darling, David Fagan, Jack Quinn, Diarmuid Martin, Emmet Collins (0-1), Kieran Colclough (0-1), Ryan Gaffey (0-3), Shane Allen (0-1), Benny Martin (1-0), Richie Greene (3-3) Subs Used:  Darren Magee, Donagh Prendergast, Colin O'Leary, Shane Kilroy-Glynn, Eoin Fahey, Shane Galvin.