Archive for July, 2012

Lims Nick Late Winner

Friday 27th July 2012. Airtricity League Division 1
Athlone Town 0-1 Limerick FC

A Rory Gaffney goal 4 minutes before full time was enough to seal all 3 points for Limerick, consolidating their position at the top of the table, after a hard fought game against Athlone Town in Lissywollen.

After impressive displays in the midweek friendly against Port Vale, Neil Harney, Shane Dunne and Eoin Monaghan were rewarded with places in the starting line up, while Joe Woods and Stephen Last retained their centre back partnership.

While much has been said about Mike Kerleys recent persistance with a five man midfield, it was used to good effect in this encounter to prevent the ball getting to the lively Rory Gaffney in a first half that both sides were evenly matched.

The second half played out much like the first with neither side looking to have a clear advantage over the other. Late in the game Athlone brought on Jason Hughes and the former Limerick player almost put a dent in their promotion hopes but for a good save from Dave Ryan with his legs.

As the clock was running down, and a draw seemed the most likely and fairest result, Limerick got the rub of the green when a ball pumped forward was deflected into the path of Rory Gaffney who scored with a powerful shot from just inside the penalty area as the Limerick bench overflowed onto the pitch in celebration.

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Match winner Rory Gaffney shilds the ball away from Mark Walsh

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Neil Harney battles for the ball with Dominic Foley

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Athlone Valiant But Vale Victorious

Wednesday 25th July 2012. Mid Season Friendly
Athlone Town 0-5 Port Vale

In a game that appeared more pointless than a broken pencil, an experimental Athlone Town side went down by 5 goals to NPower League 2 (old Division 4) side Port Vale.

The mid season friendly, originally scheduled for 24 hours earlier, fell foul to some monsoon type rain showers which left parts of the Lissywollen pitch holding more water than an otters play ground. Although the new match day yielded more favourable weather, the fact the game was rescheduled at all was of surprise to many considering Athlone have a far more important League clash with Limerick at home this weekend. However it may have just been a courtesy to Port Vale, and Mickey Adams, who looked somewhat irate when the original cancellation was announced.

With the short notice of the re-fixed game, Athlone were left with a number of players unavailable due to work commitments, so Mike Kerley used the match to give new, fringe and injury recovering squad members a run out. Recent signings Shane Dunne and Sean Skelly were handed their Athlone Town debuts while Eoin Monaghan, Neil Harney, Ethan Keogh and Lee Sung all got their first starts of the year. Ross Kenny returned from injury to take the left full position and Brian Collopy, despite injuring a wrist during the warm up, took his place between the posts.

In a lack lustre scoreless first half, Shane Dunne gave a decent account of himself, while Sean Skelly showed flashes of play that reminded Town fans of his brother Austin during his second stint at the club.

In the second half, as Athlone made a raft of substitutions, Vale stepped up a gear and the introduction of Tom Pope gave them a boost as the former Rotherham United forward netted 4 goals in half an hour spell, while Louis Dodds also nipped in to get on the score sheet as the small crowd stayed relatively silent.

And so, despite a 5 goal second half, the game ended with Town fans far more concerned about the playing surface recovery, and knocks taken by players, than the actual game itself.

Next up for Athlone is a potential season defining clash against table toppers Limerick FC

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Joe Woods blocks, former Cork City striker, Tadhg Purcells route to goal

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Sean Skelly gets away from Kingsley James

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Mervue Dig Out A Win In Fahys Field

Friday 20th July 2012. Airtricity League Division 1
Mervue United 2-0 Athlone Town

Mervue United earned their first ever (League of Ireland) Fahys Field victory over Athlone Town with a 2-0 win to further dent the Midlanders promotion hopes after last weeks disappointing draw against Finn Harps.

Once again Athlone started the game with five across the midfield and a lone striker, however the side saw some personnel changes with Brian McCarthy coming back into the heart of defence while Val Feeney, Niall Scullion and Mark McGoldrick were also handed starts at the expense of Joe Woods, Jason Hughes, Mark Walsh and Mark Sherlock.

Due to their formation, Athlones chances were limited in the first half, while Mervue were restricted to a few off target efforts from distance. Niall Scullion battled tirelessly along the wing however more often than not after beating his man and whipping in a cross there was nobody on hand to trouble the Conor Gleesons goal. For the home side, Tom King and Alan Murphy were the main contributors to Mervues attacking play in a half that did little to rise the crowd.

Mark Sherlock entered the fray at the break but while the traveling support expected a switch to 4-4-2, Sherlock took up place on the left wing as McGoldrick battled alone up front.

Stephen Walsh came close to getting on the score sheet for Mervue after an hour but the defender screwed his shot wide as Pat Jennings advanced and Stephen Last challenged from the side. Next it was Mark Walsh who nearly scored for Athlone only for his header to clip off the post.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, Tom King raced down the wing and fired a low cross into the Athlone box where he found Stephen Walsh unmarked at the back post to put Mervue into the lead maing up for his earlier miss. The goal lit a fire under Athlone who finally changed to a two man attack with Sherlock going up front and Brian Gill moving to the wing.

Mark Walsh again came close to scoring for Athlone with a header but this time the ball grazed off the crossbar. With time running out Athlone started to push everyone forward, and with gaps left in the defence a counter attack left Tom King all alone in acres of space to run through on goal and put the ball past Jennings, sealing all 3 points in injury time.

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Mark Walsh blocks Alan Murphys advances

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Athlones traveling support bring a little colour, and colourful language, to Fahys Field

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Tom King fires the ball past Pat Jennings in injury time to secure Mervues win

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Athlone Pluck A Point From Harps

Fri 13th July 2012. Airtricity League Division 1
Athlone Town 1-1 Finn Harps

A horrific first half display was apt for the Friday the 13th date as Athlone extended their unbeaten run to 3 games with a 1-1 draw with Finn Harps.

Despite playing at home, and Finn Harps occupying a spot 2 places behind in the table, Athlone started the game with Mark Sherlock as the lone striker in front of a 5 man midfield.
With Noel McGee and Brian McCarthy both on the bench, recent signing Stephen Last took the captains armband on his home debut, and his presence in the back line was one of the few positive points of the game.

Harps took the lead just before the half time break when, the usually unflappable, Pat Jennings flapped at a free kick and as the ball bounced inside the box Aaron O’Hagan slotted home into an empty net.

In the second half, Neil Harney came on for his debut while Noel McGee also came off the bench to bolster the Town attack. With some bite in midfield, plus 2 up front, Athlone started to have more of an impact as the half progressed. Inside ten minutes of the reshuffle, and with Athlone having a bit more energy about them, Sherlock and McGee combined to level the game.

With a new found hunger, Athlone kept the pressure on with Sherlock, Harney and Joe Woods all trying to trouble Ciaran Gallagher in the Finn Harps goal.

On the hour mark, Mark McGoldrick was next to get a debut and the Sligo man came close to being a match winner only for his effort to roll just wide of the post.

And so it ended honours even, and although Athlone finished the game the stronger of the sides, the cautious start was almost their undoing!

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Neil Harney gets stuck into Harps goalscorer Aaron O’Hagan on his Athlone Town debut

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Shamrocks Pipped By A Point

Tuesday 10th July 2012. ACL Division 3
Garrycastle 1-10…0-12 Kilbeggan Sahmrocks

Garrycastles Division 3 team extended their unbeaten run to 4 games with a hard fought 1 point win over Kilbeggan Shamrocks on Tuesday evening.
The home side were lucky to be in a position to fields a mix of youth and experience with Noel Galvin, Alan Daly, Conor Cosgrove, James Duignan and Alan Fox all getting game time, while the full back line consisted of recent underage team graduates Gary Mullery, Sean Brennan and Jack Donohue.

Despite Garrycastle taking an early lead, as the game progressed Kilbeggan matched them almost point for point to leave the scores level at the break. The second half started as a reversal of the first with Shamrocks kicking 4 unanswered points until Eoin Monaghan slotted home a goal to start the comeback. James Duignan leveled the scores with a point before Garrycastle welcomed back Rory McGowan who got stuck in straight away to set Conor Cosgrove up for the winning score.

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Conor Harrington bursts through the Kilbeggan midfield to start a Garrycastle attack

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Town Hit The Bar

Monday 9th July 2012. U19 Friendly
Athlone Town XI 2-0 Castlebar Celtic

Photos from Athlone Toiwn v Castlebar Celtic Here

Even Stevens In El Classico Part III

Saturday 7th July 2012. Airtricity League Division 1
Longford Town 0-0 Athlone Town

Despite injuries, suspensions and retirements, Athlone Town travelled to Flancare Park in a battling mood to earn a hard fought scoreless draw with table toppers Longford Town, in the third instalment of the 2012 El Classico series.

Pat Jennings, the saviour in so many matches since his arrival, was called into action inside the opening 10 minutes when he pushed Thomas Crawley’s powerful drive over the bar from close range to keep the game scoreless.

While the home side enjoyed most of the possession, they just had no end product for the majority of the half. Athlone battled hard with Damien Rushe and Kevin Williamson reverting to the roles of full backs due to injuries. Williamson in particular was kept busy for the half with Longford routing most attacks through Gary Shaw, but determination and tough tackling ensured the former Bray striker had little or no clear efforts.

Noel McGee, absent from recent starting line ups, came close to giving Athlone a first half lead but his attempted lob was just wide of Craig Hyland’s left hand post.

The second half played out much as the first with Jennings again pulling off a save that even had the home crowd applauding.
It was a case of “cant score, wont score” for Longford with Alan Kirby, Colly James and Jamie Duffy all spurning glorious chances in front of goal. Duffy in particular was on the receiving end of most of the crowds anger, with plenty of references to his “boy band” career along with suggestions he go back to the family business of the circus.

Athlone had their chances too, with Brian Gill bursting through Longford’s midfield and defence to set up Jordon Conroy but the latest youths team graduate sliced his shot in front of goal. Conroy almost broke the deadlock late on but was unlucky to see his shot beat Hyland, but creep the wrong side of the post.

Deep in injury time Athlone thought they were going to be awarded a penalty as Noel McGee appeared to have his ankle tapped as he powered through on goal, but alas, as with pretty much every game this season, the appeal was waved away.

And so at the third time of asking Athlone Town earned a point in El Classico, and while it wasn’t the classic most fans dream of, it was a resolute and encouraging display from Athlone to keep them in the push for promotion.

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Val Feeney and Damien Rushe double up to stop former Athlone midfielder Mark Salmon

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Longford fans fly their banner against Athlone

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Strictly Come Dancing – Longford Edition

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