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ACFL Division 1

posted 26 May 2015, 14:15 by Athlone GAA

Athlone 3-8 Tubberclair 0-11

Athlone warmed up for their debut in the Westmeath Intermediate Championship next weekend when they defeated neighbours Tubberclair by six points in Páirc Chiaráin on Saturday night.  This was a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde performance from Athlone, with an impressive first half performance that saw them score 3-7 followed by a second half in which they managed only one point.

On an ideal evening for football, visitors Tubberclair took the initiative from the off and had their first score on the board after less than 10 seconds, cutting through the Athlone defence straight from the throw-in for a great point.  However, despite enjoying plenty of early possession, some erratic shooting meant that they were unable to add to their lead before Jack Quinn equalised for Athlone after five minutes.  Tubberclair regained their lead from a free two minutes later but two quick points, a superb score from John Stapleton out near the sideline and a free from John Connellan, had Athlone in front at the 10 minute mark.  Both sides swapped points again, Athlone’s coming from a Joe Fallon free, before a two goal salvo put the home side in the driving seat.  First John Stapleton crashed the rebound past the keeper after a John Connellan attempt at a point came back off the crossbar, then Jack Quinn hammered home a beauty after some great interplay with the raiding Noel Mulligan, to leave Athlone ahead by seven points, 2-4 to 0-3, after 20 minutes.

The sides again exchanged points, John Connellan the Athlone scorer from play, before Tubberclair enjoyed their best spell of the half, with three well-taken points from play reducing the gap to four as half-time approached.  Joe Fallon steadied the Athlone ship with a point from a free, then Athlone struck for their third goal as the match entered first half stoppage time, Jack Quinn again doing well in the corner to get away from his marker to set up the in rushing Stephen Ward, who fisted powerfully to the net.  The final act of the opening period came from midfielder Ray Connellan whose long range point gave the Blues a nine point half-time cushion, 3-7 to 0-7.

If the first half was free-scoring open affair, with some excellent scores from play from both sides, the second half was altogether cagier affair, with only five points, and only one from play, being scored over the 30 minutes.  What made the low scoring even more extraordinary was that Tubberclair opened the half strongly and scored three points (two frees) in the first three minutes of play, meaning that both sides scored only one point each (both frees) in the closing 27 minutes!  For the record, those scores were a John Connellan free for the hosts after 54 minutes and another Tubberclair free on 60 minutes.  Low scoring aside, the second half was never less than interesting, with a good physical contest developing between two committed sides.  In particular, the Athlone defence worked very well as a unit, and showed great discipline to keep the visitors scoreless between the 33rd and 60th minutes.

Scorers:  Jack Quinn 1-1, John Stapleton 1-1, Stephen Ward 1-0, John Connellan 0-3, Joe Fallon 0-2, Ray Connellan 0-1
Athlone: Conal Sheeran, Eoin Maher, Damo Kelly, Fergal Murray, Danny Lynam, Noel Mulligan, Matty Darling, Ray Connellan, John Stapleton, John Egan, Charlie McMickan, Stephan Ward, Joe Fallon, John Connellan, Jack Quinn, Dylan Lynch, Dermot Pigott.