Archive for April, 2013

Honours Even At Fahys Field

Friday 26th April 2013. Airtricity League Division 1
Mervue United 2-2 Athlone Town.

A late penalty, deep into injury time, earned Athlone an unlikely share of the spoils after a brace from Mervue defender Stephen Walsh looked to have sealed all three points for the home side.

Athlone started with two personnel changes from last week, with Rod Collins Jnr making an immediate return to the starting line up at the expense of Niall Scullion, while Aidan Collins returned from injury as Conor McMahon sat out the game with tonsillitis. There was still no place in the side for Vice Captain Neil Harney, while fans favorites Noel McGee and Niall Lanigan were absent from the match day squad.

Mervue’s Marc Ludden opened the scoring just before the half hour mark, however unfortunately for the full back it was into his own net! As Ludden attempted a sliding clearance from Philly Gormans low cross into the box, he steered the ball past his own keeper to give Athlone the lead.

The lead lasted barely a minute though after some confusion in the Athlone box saw the ball bobble around between players before Stephen Walsh’s shot from close range deflected into the net for the equaliser.

Mervue came close to taking the lead just minutes later as, under pressure, Paul Skinner uncharacteristically failed to catch a ball into the box. As Skinner, Garvan Broughall and 2 Mervue players all fell down from the air, Barry Clancy scooped the ball away to safety.

Early in the second half both sides had chances to take the lead, with Philly Gorman sending a diving header over the bar from close range, while Noel Varley kept Paul Skinner on his toes.

Just over an hour into the match, Walsh popped up to score his second, again with the aid of a deflection, when his powerful strike from distance flew past Skinners right side and into the bottom corner of the net.

Tempers flared on both sides as the game moved into the final third, with some refereeing decisions not finding favor with either manager.

With the game entering its allotted three minutes of injury time, it looked like Mervue had done enough to win the match until Ian Sweeney broke through on goal to chip the ball over the diving Brian O’Donoghue. With the large, and very vocal, Athlone crowd thinking the ball had gone in, O’Donoghue somehow managed to get his trailing knee to the ball as he fell in the opposite direction. Moments later the Mervue keeper again got down well to save from Sweeney and as the ball came back out, the whistle went, but it was not to announce full time as everyone expected; instead it was to signal a penalty to Athlone, much to the confusion of the crowd, players and management.

With the last meaningful kick of the game, Philly Gorman stepped up and calmly sent O’Donoghue the wrong way from the spot to hi-jack a point for Athlone at the death.

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Ian Sweeney celebrates with Philly Gorman after the strikers injury time penalty secured a point for Athlone

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Dolans Double Wins King Of The Castles

Sun 21st April 2013. Senior Championship
Castledaly 1-08 … 2-12 Garrycastle

Goals from James Dolan in each half secured a win for Garrycastle over Castledaly in the opening weekend of the Senior Football Championship.

Despite the scoreboard showing a 7 point victory, it wasn’t all one way traffic with Castledaly setting the pace early on while Garrycastle struggled with the blustery wind in Tubberclair.

Dolan’s first goal was a family affair with cousin Gary putting him through to finish well from close range. The second had an element of luck after his powerful shot crashed off the crossbar, and from the rebound the ball hit his chest and flew into the net.

As for the game itself, it was the usual hard hitting Championship match with the only real talking points being the officials!

Firstly, no linesmen were present for the match; and despite the game being played in a neutral venue, no locals stepped up to the plate. This meant that subs from the teams took the flag which lead to some expected grief. At one stage, just before throw in, the referee even asked Garrycastle trainer Aidy Dunning if he would do the honors!

From my own time playing at underage level, the absence of linesmen (or umpires for that matter) always struck fear in the heart of the squad as you knew if you were asked to take a place on the line, or at the posts, your chances of getting a run out were somewhere between slim and none!

In the second half there was also some bizarre decisions when, for a five minute spell, Garrycastle were refused permission to bring on a substitute despite the ball going out of play not once,not twice but trice times during that time…much to the anger of the support behind the dugout!

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Patrick Mulvihill bursts through three Castledaly players during Sundays Championship game in Tubberclair

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All eyes on the prize

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El Classico Win Keeps Longford Top

Sat, 20th April 2013. Airtricity League Division 1
Longford Town 2-1 Athlone Town

A Paddywagon, a very vocal crowd, last minute goals and a cracker from Ian Sweeney told the story of the second El Classico of the season, as Longford regained top spot with a 2-1 win over Athlone.

Athlone started with another change in personnel, with Neil Harney relegated to the bench and Robbie Clarke covering centre back for the injured Aidan Collins, while Niall Scullion slotted in at right full. There was also no place for Niall Lanigan after returning from suspension, with Garvan Broughall keeping his place in the middle of the park.

In a scoreless first half, Longford captain Mark Salmon pulled the strings in midfield, making the absence of Keith Gillespie unnoticed as the former Athlone Town man was at the heart of every attacking move the home side put together. Longford had the majority of chances in the first half, however Paul Skinner in the Athlone goal was equal to everything that was thrown at him, while at the other end Ian Sweeney continued to impress as he supplemented the attacking options of Garbhan Coughlan and Philly Gorman.

The second half played out much as the first, with Longford looking more dangerous, but unable to find a way past Skinner. Athlone created chances too, but there was no real end product as Chris Bennion remained largely untroubled.

A draw looked to be on the cards up until the last 6 minutes of play when fortune shone on the hosts as Noel Haverty’s close range effort was deflected into the net from an Athlone player on the back post.

Two minutes later Longford doubled their lead when David O’Sullivan ran on to a through ball, and as the Athlone defence looked to the linesman expecting an offside flag, O’Sullivan rounded the advancing Skinner to fire home.

Athlone didn’t lay down, and in the 90th minute Ian Sweeney fired a goal on the half volley that left both sets of players rooted to the ground. Alas it was too late and the three minutes of injury time failed to product an equaliser as Longford finished Series 1 on top spot.

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Longford match winner David O’Sullivan cuts through Mark Hughes and Robbie Clarke

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Town Pluck The Points From Harps

Friday 12th April 2013. Airtricity League Division 1
Athlone Town 1-0 Finn Harps.

A Garbhan Coughlan goal, twenty minutes from time was enough to earn Athlone their first home win of the season, and an important 3 points over Finn Harps at Athlone Town Stadium.

With Roddy Collins Jnr and Niall Lanigan suspended, Neil Harney came back into the starting line up to cover right full, while Ryan Coombes moved to a wide right position allowing Coughlan partner Philly Gorman up front after the former Shelbourne and Kildare County forward returned from his own suspension.

After a dour first half, Harps second half efforts were thwarted by the width of the post, along with good anticipation from Paul Skinner to cut out chances from Kevin McHugh.Despite some end to end patches if play, the game looked destined to end level with neither side showing a clear advantage over the other. However when Athlone got a proper chance of their own, Coughlan made no mistake as he pounced on a poor headed clearance from Marc Brolly to fire past Ciaran Gallagher securing the much needed home victory.

Full Set From Athlone Town 1-0 Finn Harps

Goalscorer Garbhan Coughlan gets away from Matt Crossan

Full Set From Athlone Town 1-0 Finn Harps

Town Go Down To Blaa-st From The Past

Friday 5th April 2013. Airtricity League Division 1
Waterford United 1-0 Athlone Town

A 78th minute goal, from former Athlone Town defender David Breen, gave Waterford all 3 points earning them their second win of the season as Athlone suffered their first League defeat of 2013.

Athlone faced an uphill battle as early as the 15th minute when Roddy Collins Jnr made a 2 footed lunge on Paul Quilty with a straight red card the only option. Despite having a numeric disadvantage, the sending off strengthened Athlone defence somewhat with Niall Scullion reverting back to right full. The move meant Ryan Coombes stepped back towards the right wing while Garbhan Coughlan ran himself ragged as the lone front man.

Although playing with an extra man, Waterford failed to make use of the advantage and their first half efforts was limited to a close range header from Paudie Quinn that was directed straight at Paul Skinner in the Town goal.

The second half played out much as the first with Town looking to have earned a hard fought draw until tired legs finally took their toll when Peter Higgins sent a ball into the box from the right wing and Breen blasted the ball home from close range.

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Match winner David Breen holds off a challenge from Garbhan Coughlan

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Paudie Quinn cuts in between Garvan Broughall and Conor McMahon to set up an attack

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