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U14 County Final Heartbreak for Athlone

posted 9 Nov 2014, 13:14 by Athlone GAA

U14 County Final Heartbreak for Athlone

9/11/2014 in Ballynacargy

The curtain finally fell on the 2014 season for Athlone GAA and it was a gut wrenching last minute defeat that broke the hearts of the U14s in a wet and miserable Ballinacargy GAA pitch. Quite how the showpiece for 14 year old boys ended up being played in November on a pitch that was barely playable is one for the fixtures committee to explain but massive credit must go to the players and mentors of Athlone and Mullingar Shamrocks for serving up an enthralling spectacle from the first to last whistle on a surface that race goers would have called “bottomless”.

The match began with Mullingar out of the traps like greyhounds and they had raised a green flag before the Athlone boys had time to draw breath. Indeed for the first ten minutes, it was all Mullingar, with their very slick forward line combining very intelligently and they managed to get behind the Athlone defence on a number of occasions only for some wayward shooting to deny further scores. However, the Athlone defence regrouped and after 15 minutes had limited the score-line to 1-2 to 0-2 with Athlone’s scores coming from a Donagh Prendergast free and a neat score from Kevin Rowan. As the half wore on, the physicality increased and a yellow card was shown to Athlone midfielder Tom Roper for some over zealous tackling but a point from the resultant free left Shamrocks 1-3 to 0-2 ahead. However, the rest of the half belonged to Athlone as they tacked on 1-2 without reply, the goal coming from Kevin Rohan with a pile-driver that went through the net while the points came from the irrepressible Donagh Prendergast (from a free following a foul on Josh Beaumont that resulted in a booking for the Shamrocks full back) and a fine score from the left peg of Tom Roper, leaving the score at the interval 1-4 to 1-3 to the boys in blue.

The second moiety began in a downpour that further worsened conditions underfoot but the lads started brightly and added two further points from the boot of Kevin Rowan and another Donagh Prendergast free. Remarkably this would prove to be Athlone’s final score. Despite dominating possession for most of the remainder of the game, scores refused to come. A combination of some wayward shooting and bad decision-making meant that the three point lead was not added to but full credit must go to the Mullingar lads who stuck in resolutely and defended as if their lives depended on it. Some indiscipline crept in as the tension rose with the game entering the final five minutes and a pair of yellow cards was dished out to calm things down. From the resultant free, Mullingar scored their first score of the half leaving Athlone in a precarious two point lead. It proved not to be enough as in the 59th minute a high ball in to the Athlone box resulted in a Mullingar player being brought down and the referee stood with his hands outstretched indicating a penalty. The spot kick was smashed to the back of the net in very impressive fashion especially given the pressure involved. There was just time for one last attack for Athlone and this resulted in a 45 for Athlone but despite a fine strike from Kieran Colclough the ball fell short and was fielded magnificently by the Mullingar full back and that was that.

Congratulations to a very fine Mullingar team on the win. They showed that if you have the character and belief to keep going you can get your rewards. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Athlone boys as they knew in their hearts that the game was theirs for the taking in the second half. They will come back from this as they are an excellent bunch of lads. They have been on the road since February and brought much credit to the club throughout the year in winning the Feile final as well as topping the league and league championship tables. Great credit goes to their mentors, Dobsey Prendergast, Liam Downes, Joe Finlass and Niall Cleary who put in a fantastic year.

The lads gave their all and that’s all anyone asks. Well done and thanks for a great year.

The Athlone panel was: Shane Allen, Andrew Beaumont, Joshua Beaumont, Michael Byrne, Kevin Cleary, Kieran Colclough, Sean Comber, Enda Tynan Daly, Joseph Devins, Niall Doolan, Patrick Doyle, John Duddy, James Finlass, Conor Glennon, Marko Gojkovic, Anthony Johnson, Faris Kajani, Israel Kimazo, Rytis Liaukevicius, Eamon Martin, Killian O’Sullivan, Deba Okodugha, Donagh Prendergast, Thomas Roper, Kevin Rowan, Conor Rushe, Patrick Ryan, Mark Tallon.