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U21 Championship Semi Final

posted 23 Nov 2016, 07:32 by Athlone GAA

Athlone 1-7 The Downs 1-12

The curtain came down on our 2016 season when our Under 21s were defeated in the championship semi-final by a typically well-organised and committed Downs team in a frosty Páirc Chiaráín on Sunday morning.  This was a disappointing end for a team that were unable to reproduce the form they had shown in earlier rounds, but, with the majority of the team underage again next year, they have shown enough to suggest that they could be a force in in this competition again in 2017, provided they put in the necessary work throughout the year.

Despite Athlone opening the scoring in the first minute through a Ryan Gaffey free, it was the visitors who had the momentum in the early stages and they responded with three quick points, before Benny Martin kept Athlone in touch with a point after being well set up by Jack Quinn and Gaffey.  Two further Downs points stretched their lead again, but they failed to take full advantage of the possession they enjoyed throughtout the half and late points from Ryan Gaffey and Richie Greene left Athlone trailing by just a point at the break.  

A superb Charlie McMickan point brought Athlone level early in the second half, but any hopes that this would be the catalyst for the home side to seize the initiative were dashed when the North Westmeath men quickly regained the lead with another point, and then added four more unanswered points to open up a five point lead with only 10 minutes remaining. Indeed, it could’ve been worse for Athlone in this period, as it took a goal line clearance from Matthew Darling and a fingertip save from Conor Devaney to prevent seemingly certain goals.  Athlone did eventually add to their second half total with points from Jack Quinn and Charlie McMickan, but The Downs responded with a similar score of their own each time to maintain their five point lead as the game entered injury time.  With the match seemingly slipping away, Ryan Gaffey gave Athlone hope when he blasted to the net from close range after a Danny Reid knockdown, but they were unable to create the second goal scoring chance they needed and instead, deep into stoppage time, the Downs broke away to score the insurance goal with the last kick of the match to seal a 1-12 to 1-7 victory.

Athlone:  Conor Devaney, Diarmuid Martin, Matthew Darling, Shane Galvin, Fionn Dowd, Stephen Ward, Luke Kelly, Jordan Marshment, Benny Martin (0-1), Sam Omukoro, Michael Doolan, Ryan Gaffey (1-2), Jack Quinn (0-1), Richie Greene (0-1) Subs:  Charlie McMickan (0-2), Jack Ruane, Eoin Fahey, Aidy Byrne, Tadhg Prendergast, Sean Dowd, Patrick McGettigan, David Cleary, Robert Teape.