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SFC Quarter Final

posted 3 Oct 2016, 07:49 by Athlone GAA

Athlone 1-7 Mullingar Shamrocks 1-7

Athlone and Mullingar Shamrocks must do it again after they played out a low-scoring but absorbing draw in their senior championship quarter-final, played in perfect conditions in Cusack Park on Saturday.

Defences were on top in the early stages and it took almost 10 minutes for Mullingar to open the scoring with a free.  John Connellan responded in kind to put Athlone on the board, but Shamrocks then enjoyed their best spell of the match with three points from play to lead by 0-4 to 0-1 after 20 minutes.  Two excellent points from Alan Gaughan and Daniel Reid brought Athlone right back into the match, while another attack late in the half could’ve lead to a goal, but some hesitancy in the scoring area meant that the chance was squandered and instead it was the Mullingar men who got the final score of the half from a free to lead by 0-5 to 0-3 at the break.

Athlone would’ve been pleased to go in just two points down at the interval, but they were dealt a severe blow in the first minute of the second period when a speculative Shamrocks line ball was fisted to the net.  A superb point from near the sideline by John Connellan kept Athlone in touch, but Mullingar soon restored their five point advantage with another point from play.  Some excellent defending from the Athlone backs, with Eoin Maher especially impressive, prevented Shamrocks from stretching their lead any further and gave the Shannonsiders the platform to launch an exciting comeback.  Another fine point from Alan Gaughan, followed by a John Connellan free, left just a goal between them and John Stapleton duly supplied that with a superb finish low into the corner after a brilliant team move had carved open the Mullingar defence.  Athlone now had the momentum, but missed some chances to take the lead and instead Shamrocks restored their lead with another free.  It looked like Athlone’s chance was gone as the game entered injury time with them trailing by a point, but a foul on John Connellan gave them a free out near the sideline.  What would’ve been a difficult free to convert was made easier when further indiscipline from the Mullingar defender led to a red card for him and the free being moved in closer to the goal.  Connellan duly converted the free to bring the sides level and, despite a last gasp Shamrocks attack that ended in a wide, Athlone had done enough to earn a replay, which will take place in Tubberclair this Wednesday night at 7.30pm.

Athlone:  Conor Devaney, Eoin Maher, Damien Kelly, Fergal Murray, Stephen Ward, Paul Bannon, Tom Egan, Alan Gaughan (0-2), Jordan Marshment, John Egan, Matthew Darling, John Stapleton (1-0), Jack Quinn, Daniel Reid (0-1), John Connellan (0-4)  Subs Used:  Mickey Greene, Sam Omukoro.