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SFC Athlone v Tyrellspass

posted 16 May 2016, 12:56 by Athlone GAA

SFC Sec B

Athlone 2-10 Tyrrellspass 1-10

Athlone earned their second win of this year’s Senior Championship with a thrilling victory in an occasionally controversial clash with Tyrrellspass in Rochfortbridge on Saturday evening.  Despite several setbacks, including John Connellan being forced to cry off through injury shortly before the start, losing Stephen Ward to a red card with 20 minutes still to play and the concession of an extremely contentious goal, underdogs Athlone showed great character and skill to record their first Championship victory over the men from the Tidy Village in quite some time.

Athlone began brightly and opened the scoring with a superb point from John Stapleton.  Tyrrellspass responded with a Ger Egan free, but two points in rapid succession from Paul Bannon and Ray Connellan had Athlone back in front.  Tyrrellspass replied again to half the deficit, before Athlone enjoyed their best spell of the match as frees from Noel Mulligan and Ray Connellan, followed by points from play from John Egan and Stephen Ward (both after excellent patient moves) extended the lead to five points.  Tyrellspass struck back with a point to stay in touch, but Athlone got a huge boost as the match entered first half stoppage time when Ray Connellan was pulled back in the square and Jordan Marshment powered the resultant penalty past the keeper for the game’s opening goal.  There was still time for Tyrrellspass to pull back a point from a free, but Athlone were happy to go in at the break with a six point lead, 1-7 to 0-4.

As expected, Tyrrellspass started the second period strongly and two points from play reduced the gap to four.  John Egan opened Athlone’s second half account with a fine point after another superb move, but Tyrrellspass answered this with a free of their own, before the first major controversy of the game occurred when John Egan appeared to be foot-tripped as he brought the ball out of defence.  Virtually the whole ground stopped in expectation of a whistle, but, when none was forthcoming, Denis Glennon reacted quickest to snaffle possession and set up his brother David to bundle the ball over the line to leave just a point between the sides.  The Athlone team were incensed by this turn of events but responded well when a surging Stephen Ward run lead to him being pulled down on the edge of the square.  However what looked like being a straightforward point for Athlone turned into another disaster when, following a melee after the foul, Ward received a straight red card and the original award of a free was changed to a throw-up, which Tyrrellspass won to relieve the pressure.

After these two setbacks, and especially against a side of Tyrrellspass’s quality, Athlone might’ve been expected to fold, but they refused to buckle and continued to take the game to their opponents.  They got their reward for their attacking approach when Jordan Marshment was judged to be impeded in the square as he contested a high ball, and he showed great coolness to pick himself up and confidently dispatch his second penalty of the game low into the left corner to put some daylight between the sides again.  Athlone were showing no signs of their numerical disadvantage and stretched their lead even with further with two Ray Connellan frees, after full-backs Fergal Murray and Damo Kelly, both of whom had done an excellent job of containing the dangerous Glennon brothers, were fouled as they counter-attacked deep in opposition territory.

This left Athlone leading by six points, 2-10 to 1-7 as the game entered its closing 10 minutes, but any hopes the Athlone support had of the game just petering out were dashed as Tyrresllpass chipped away at the Shannonsiders’ lead with three points from play to leave just a goal between them as the game entered injury time, of which there were several minutes to be played because of the earlier incidents.  Athlone negotiated the first two minutes of added time relatively comfortably, but after a period of keep ball, lost possession on half-way, which led to county star Ger Egan bearing down on goal.  Fortunately his rasping shot came back of the crossbar, but the drama wasn’t over as a follow-up shot was half-blocked,  which led to the ball finding its way into the small square, where Conor Devaney did well to smother a close range effort.  A goalmouth scramble, which seemed to last an eternity and involve the entire Athlone team lining the goal, eventually ended when Fergal Murray emerged from the ruck with possession as the final whistle went, much to the delight of the entire Athlone contingent present.

 Athlone:  Conor Devaney, Eoin Maher, Damo Kelly, Fergal Murray, Noel Mulligan (0-1), Paul Bannon (0-1), Matty Darling, John Stapleton (0-1), Jordan Marshment (2-0), Stephen Ward (0-1), Danny Reid, John Egan (0-2), Ray Connellan (0-4), Sam Omukoro, Jack Quinn Subs Used:  Alan Gaughan, Tom Egan, Danny Lynam.

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