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Athlone Take All Three From SDG

Friday 29th June 2012. Airtricity League Division 1
Athlone Town 2-0 SD Galway.

Athlone Town maintained their unbeaten record against SD Galway, taking all 3 points with a 2-0 win on Friday evening at Lissywollen.

While the overall performance wasn’t much to write about it was an important result for Athlone as they bounced back from last weeks defeat to promotion rivals Waterford.

Athlone opened the scoring just before the half hour mark when Jason Hughes cut in from the right wing and unleashed a powerful strike from 20 yards to beat Liam Grant in the SD Galway goals.

Five minutes later they doubled their lead when Tommy Barrett headed home at the near post from Val Feeneys cross from the right.

The home side could have added more to their tally before the break but for Grant who saved at the feet of Mark Sherlock on two more occassions.

While they rarely troubled Athlone in the first half, SD Galway were almost thrown a life line when Pat Jennings dropped a cross under pressure from Mike Tierney. As the ball fell to Gerry Dolan, the forward seemed to panic in front of the empty goal, and his hesitation gave Jennings enough time to scramble back across the goal and block the ball at Dolans feet.

The second half saw the introduction of Athlones new signing Lee Choel Sung, and the Korean defender got straight into the thick of the action as the visitors stepped up several gears from the start of the half.

To their credit, Salthill had chances to pull goals back but for some excellent saves from Jennings along with a goal line clearance from Brian McCarthy. The introduction of former Town player Mixie Harty also gave the visitors more bite in midfield as they tried to deal with Brian Gills battling play.

In an almost weekly occurance at this stage Athlone, had more penalty claims turned down with second half substitute Noel McGee almost having his jersey ripped off him inside the area. This claim was added to a first half incident when Mark Sherlock appeared to be tripped by Eugene Greaney as the defender fell to the ground trying to catch up to the front man as he ran towards the six yard box.

But there was to be no second half goal for either side as Athlone made it 3 wins from 3 games against the Galway side so far this season.

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Goalscorer Jason Hughes holds off a challenge from Mike Tierney as he makes his way towards goal

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Tommy Barrett celebrates after scoring Athlones second goal against SD Galway

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Athlone Hit By Bolts From The Blues

Fri 22nd June 2012. Airtricity League Division 1
Athlone Town 1-4 Waterford United

41 days after Athlone’s last home game, the Town were left shell shocked with a 4-1 defeat in Fridays come back game at Lissywollen. Despite the scoreline indicating a hammering, the game itself told a different story with Athlone unlucky not to take something from the game.

Good performances from Ian Sweeney and Val Feeney in Towns last game saw the youthful duo retain their place in the team while Kevin Williamson was recalled to first team duty with Brian Gill suspended.

As with the meeting of the sides earlier in the season, penalty shouts formed a large part of Athlones demise with the first of 4 appeals turned down inside the opening 10 minutes when Gary Dempsey appeared to handle the ball inside the area. Waterford reacted to the threat straight away on the attack and had it not been for the outstretched leg of Pat Jennings they could have taken an early lead. Sean Maguire proved to be a constant threat to Athlone with the player using his low center of gravity to great effect to twist and turn the home defence to keep possession.

With just over half a hour played, Waterford got some luck when an in swinging corner struck Mark Sherlock on the head and as the Town defence stood rooted to the ground, Peter White directed the ball into the bottom corner of the net unchallenged.

As the break loomed, Athlone had their second penalty claim waved away when Sherlock went to ground after some good work to keep the ball in play at the end line and muscle into the penalty area and on to the 6 yard box.

The introduction of Noel McGee early in the second half gave Athlone a boost with both himself and Mark Sherlock having chances to draw level. Ian Sweeney was next to lose a penalty appeal when he ran on to a long Jennings clearance only to have his heals clipped as he ran towards goal.

Typically, with so many chances up front, concentration at the back lapsed and a quick break saw Paul Phelan square the ball to Sean Maguire and the lively forward made no mistake when he got his chance.

Five minutes later, lady luck finally shone on Athlone when Noel McGee was fouled as he was about to strike on goal. This time Ray Matthews showed no hesitation to point to the spot giving Athlone a life line. McGee stepped up to send Packie Holden the wrong way and get Athlone back into the game with twenty minutes left.

With Athlone throwing the kitchen sink at Waterford, Tommy Barrett, Jason Hughes, Mark Sherlock, Ian Sweeney and Noel McGee all came close to leveling the game. However pushing everything up front left the back exposed and after a point blank save from Jennings, Waterford launched wave after wave of attack with Phelan again the provider on the break as Peter Keegan slotted home in the 90th minute despite calls for offside. Three minutes into injury time Maguire got his second of the evening with a fine solo goal to put the icing on the cake for United.

On a positive note though, Athlones player development continued with Ethan Keogh the latest to progress from the Youths to a First Team debut, while Ronan Morris took a place in the matchday squad.
Credit must go to the underage management of Mickey Collins & Alan McCaul as more and more players are making the transition.

On a negative note, and unfortunately not for the first time this season, Waterford United keeper Packie Holden was determined to get opposition players booked as he screamed at the ref to produce cards for almost every challenge.

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Sean Maguire holds on to the ball under pressure from Joe Woods and Jason Hughes

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Val Feeney takes a heavy challenge from Paul Carey

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Garrycastle Street League Finals

Sunday 10th June 2012. Garrycastle Street League Finals

On a glorious Sunday afternoon the Moydrum, Coosan, Ballymahon Rd and Retreat Under 11’s took to the Garrycastle pitch to contest the annual Garrycastle GAA Street League Finals.

The competition, which has been running for as long as I can remember, had previously comprised of teams representing the areas Moydrum, Hillcourt, Cornamaddy and Auburn, but with the growing interest of Gaelic Football and the expanding catchment areas the teams have been renamed to accommodate everyone. Another significant change in recent years has been the introduction of a points system for block downs as well as the traditional goals and points. This way, players are encouraged to play in both the forwards and the backs to accumulate as many points as possible while also developing attacking and defending skills.

In the curtain raiser, Moydrum took the honours in the Shield Final with a narrow 2 point win over Coosan, while in the Cup Final, the Ballymahon Road team came from behind with a late rally to beat Retreat in a fiercely contested game.

Along with all the players and parents, a huge amount of credit must be given to the organisers and mentors of this fantastic competition which over the years has seen players develop from underage level right through the ranks towards Senior level and All Ireland Finalists.

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Des Dolan presents trophies for Top Scorer and Top Blocker

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The Shield winning Moydrum team with coaches Enda Keena & Karl Henson

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McGee’s Daisy Cutter Spoils Wexfords Flower Festival

Friday 1st June 2012. Airtricity League Division 1
Wexford Youths 1-2 Athlone Town. Ferrycarrig Park

In front of a small crowd in Ferrycarrig, largely due to a local Flower Festival coupled with the Wexford Strawberry Festival, Athlone Town moved to within 1 point of the play offs after a hard fought win against a very physical Wexford Youths.

To say the game wasn’t pretty would be an understatement with both sides inflicting more bother on the birds over Ferrycarrig Park than each others goals for the majority of the opening half hour. However just approaching that half hour mark Youths put themselves into the lead when Tom Elmes split Athlones defence running on to a through ball to slot the opener past Pat Jennings.

Athlone came out from the half time break with a greater sense of urgency and their sprightly start was rewarded when Mark Sherlock won a penalty after being bundled over inside the area. While the Wexford players felt the decision to be harsh, the Athlone players could hardly believe that they were finally getting the rub of the green with refereeing decisions. Ironically Kevin O’Regan took charge of the game with Keith Callanan acting as 4th Official which was a role reversal from Athlones last League game where a questionable refereeing decision cos them a result against Limerick.

After a moment of uncertainty as to who would take the kick, with Tommy Barrett and Damien Rushe appearing to show interest, Sherlock himself took hold of the ball and calmly strolled to the spot with the Wexford defenders still looking on in disbelief. As Sherlock drew back the trigger, Wexford keeper Graham Doyle guessed right, but the Athlone striker placed the ball to his left leveling the game.

With the game drawn, Wexford threw the kitchen sink at Athlone and had it not been for some point blank saves from Pat Jennings, along with a goal line clearance from Brian McCarthy they would have sent Athlone home with nothing.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though with the youthful duo of Val Feeney and Ian Sweeney running the Wexford players ragged at every opportunity.

The introduction of Noel McGee late in the second half gave Athlone another boost with the Midlanders top scorer slotted in behind Mark Sherlock and Sweeney dropping more into midfield. With Tommy Barrett going off too, Athlone had to further restructure with Warren Conroy coming off the bench into midfield while Jason Hughes reverted to right full as Joe Woods took Barretts place in the center of defence.

With the game coming to an end, and a draw looking a fair result overall, a long ball towards the top left corner of the pitch was chased down by Noel McGee as the Wexford defence tracked back. After turning the right full, McGee sent in a low ball into the 6 yard box, and with each of the Wexford defenders leaving it to the other, Graham Doyle was left rooted to the ground as the ball trickled past his left boot with just enough power to cross the line.

With 5 minutes of injury time signaled, the 5 traveling Town fans could barely watch until the final whistle sounded to move Athlone into 4th place, just 1 point behind Waterford and a promotion play off spot.

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Mark Sherlock takes the ball to the penalty spot as the Wexford players protest

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Val Feeney toe pokes the ball away from Craig Wall

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