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County Final - Athlone v Maryland/Tang

posted 8 Dec 2012, 08:51 by Unknown user   [ updated 9 Dec 2012, 15:02 ]
U21 County Final
Athlone 0-8 Maryland/Tang 0-11

As the dust settled on the final GAA fixture of the 2012, the U21 Final, the Athlone lads gathered on the pitch for the presentation to the victorious Maryland/Tang combination and wondered what might have been. Great credit must go to this group of players who went toe to toe with a serious Maryland/Tang outfit to be pipped by a mere three points. There had been some raised eyebrows when the draw saw Maryland & Tang combined for the 15 a side tournament, especially given that there was a 13 a side tournament for clubs who couldn't field fifteen. However when the ball was thrown in on Friday night in Tubberclair all these debates were sidelined and the thirty players who started put up an intense, physical and at times enthralling spectacle. They say that the underdog tag can sometimes be a motivation and the performance that was put in by our lads certainly bore this out. The torrential rain on Thursady night coupled with the almost sub zero temperature on Friday meant that conditions underfoot were extremely difficult and indeed the opening quarter was littered with players losing their footing. It was The Maryland/Tang outfit that settled the quickest and showed their class as they raced into a 4 - 1 lead after twenty minutes. However the Athlone lads showed that they were not there to make up the numbers and indeed scored the point of the half when the some neat interplay between Dermot Piggott and Jordan Marshment on the wing saw the ball find its way to the outstanding Brian Gill who after sizing up his options split the posts from 35 yards. Another free from Brian followed shortly afterwards and to the surprise of the large crowd in attendance the sides went to dressing rooms with nothing between them on a scoreline of 0-5 apiece.
After the restart there was no relenting in the intensity of the game. Making light of the difficult conditions both sides showed there is plenty of skill in South westmeath and the individual battles all over the pitch were enthralling, none more so than young Daniel Lynam on Westmeath star Callum McCormack. Callum is a recognised star and after Friday night it seems only a matter of time before Danny's talent is seen in the Maroon and White. As the half progressed scores were traded before Maryland/Tang edged a point in front. The next attack saw McCormack bearing down on goal only to be upended and in the ensuing "handbags" Athlone 'keeper Conal Sheeran received his marching orders. There couldn't have been any argument and after the twenty one yard free was popped over, Athlone were two points down and a man down. Despite this, some heroic efforts by the team in blue particularly by Ray Connellan, Shane Kilroy-Glynn and Eamon Maher meant the match was always in the melting pot. However when the final white flag of the night was raised for Marland/Tang, it was they who triumphed on a scoreline of 0-11 to 0-08. Many congratulations to the victors who were very gracious in their victory speeches as were our lads in defeat. If this is a sign of things to come, then the future is bright. Well done to mentors Tom, Rory, Denis and James. 
For the record, the scorers for Athlone were Ray Connellan (0-5) Brian Gill (0-2) Shane Kilroy Glynn (0-1).
The squad was: Conal Sheeran, Dermot Piggott, Andrew Lynam, Emmet Kiely, Jordan Marshment, Daniel Lynam, Tommy McCoy, Brian Gill, Gavin Downey, Eoin Maher, Shane Kilroy Glynn, Luke Dully, Brian Mulvihill, Ray Connellan, Glen Costello, Seamus Byrne, Eoghan O'Reilly, Sean Dowling and Dylan Lynch. 
See match photos under Club Photos on left.