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Leinster Minor Club Championship Final

posted 16 Dec 2017, 09:39 by Athlone GAA
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Athlone 1-14 Clane 3-13

Hard luck to our minor boys who lost out to Kildare champions Clane in the Leinster minor club final at the Eire Óg GAA Club grounds in Carlow on Saturday.  A superb first half performance made it look like the Athlone lads would add Leinster success to their county final win, but Clane showed why they had been tournament favourites throughout with a powerful comeback to deny them and claim the title for themselves.

Points from Luke Kelly, Josh Beaumont and a Kieran Colclough free got the Athlone side off to a perfect start before Clane opened their account, and a Beaumont free and Colclough '45 put Athlone 0-5 to 0-1 ahead. Further scores from Kelly, Mark Egan, Beaumont and two Colclough frees (the second from about 55 metres!) put Athlone further ahead, and although the Kildare champions kept in with three pointed  frees, Athlone finished strongest with a point from Benny Martin and a Beaumont goal, when he tapped home from close range after some good build up play from Colclough, Sean Dowd and Benny Martin. Athlone led  by 1-11 to 0-5 at half time and looked in a strong position to win the game, having played some excellent football. However, the warning signs were there as three brilliant saves from John Duddy meant the scoreline suggested Athlone were more comfortable than they actually were.

If the cliché 'a game of two halves' was invented for any game, it was this one. Clane managed to score more than Athlone during their dominant patch and this ended up being the difference in a thoroughly enjoyable game of football. The sides swapped frees early on, Athlone’s being scored by Kieran Colclough, before Clane got their first goal. A second Colclough free kept Athlone comfortably ahead but Clane then notched 1-5 without reply to go a point up. A third Colclough free of the half brought Athlone level, but Clane regained their lead again with two points, and with Athlone pushing forward to try to draw level, a third goal put the game beyond them and sealed a stunning comeback win for the Kildare lads. Athlone had chances to draw level before the final goal went in, and were left bitterly disappointed at the final whistle. However, the lads can be very proud of a brilliant year where they bridged a 24 year gap to bring the Westmeath minor title back to Pairc Chiarain and the Leinster campaign, where they beat the Louth and Carlow champions respectively and went toe to toe with the very strong Kildare champions, will stand as huge experience to these lads.  Many thanks to John Kearns and Eire Óg GAA, Carlow for organising this fantastic tournament.

Athlone: John Duddy; Niall Doolan, James Finlass, Patrick Ryan; JJ Offorjama, Diarmuid Martin, Paddy McGettigan; Kieran Colclough (0-7, 6f, 1 '45), Shane Allen; Stephen O'Connor, Luke Kelly (0-2), Mark Egan (0-1); Josh Beaumont (1-3, 1f), Sean Dowd, Benny Martin (0-1). Subs: Conor Rushe, Donagh Prendergast, Mark Tallon, Enda Daly, Anthony Johnson, Aaron Forde, Rytis Liaukevicius.

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