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Athleague end 11-year wait for title

  • Written by Seamus Duke
  • Published in Sport
Featured Athleague captain Niall Connolly lifts the Mickey Cunniffe Cup. Athleague captain Niall Connolly lifts the Mickey Cunniffe Cup.

 

 

 

Kepak Roscommon SHC Final

 

Athleague 2-11 Four Roads 1-11

 

A superb first half display, at the end of which they carried an eleven-point lead into the break, was the key as Athleague upset the odds to win their first senior title since 2007 in very windy conditions last Sunday. Incredibly it was the first time in over 40 years for them to defeat their great rivals Four Roads in a final and on the balance of play they deserved it.

  A gale force wind blew directly downfield from the Kepak end, and with the aid of the elements in the opening half it was all about what lead Athleague were able to build up. They went in leading by 2-7 to 0-2 which was certainly a great base to build on.

  As they prepared themselves for the expected Four Roads onslaught in the second period a few scores against the run of play would always be very important. The four points they managed in that period proved crucial.

  Athleague can thank a superb display from all members of their defence and goalkeeper David Connell for their victory. Four Roads dangerman Johnny Coyne was restricted to just three points from play and that was down to excellent work from the likes of Alan Moore, David Delaney, JP Murray, Gary Fallon, Pat Nolan and the captain Niall Connolly who led by example.

  It was a very enjoyable game and if Athleague wanted to have any chance they had to put up a big score in the first half with the wind at their backs. Eamon Flanagan flicked home the opening goal in the 13th minute but it was the second goal, an opportunist effort from David Delaney in the 29th minute, that really gave Athleague a platform for the second half.

  The Four Roads comeback in the second half started slowly but with Andrew Lawlor deadly accurate from the placed ball, they were edging closer. But in fairness to Athleague they scored four really precious points in that second half. One was a monster free in the 35th minute driven all the way over the bar from Eamon Flanagan into the teeth of the gale from his own ’65 and another was a peach of a score from Robbie Fallon ( who had an excellent game) in the 5th minute of injury-time from out near the sideline.

  Four Roads needed an early goal to really test Athleague but it didn’t arrive until the 6th minute of injury-time and it was too late to influence the outcome. There was a nervous minute or so for Athleague when the margin was down to three late in injury-time, but they were the deserved winners to take their 19th title.

  Four Roads were appearing in their 11th final in a row, which is an incredible record, and one thing is certain in Roscommon hurling and that is that Four Roads will be back. But this day belonged to Athleague, who were superbly managed by Seamus Qualter and they deserve every congratulations after many years of disappointment and frustration.

 

First half

 

Athleague were 1-5 to no score up after 19 minutes but there could have been three goals in the game in the opening ten. Johnny Coyne’s effort was well saved by David Connell in the 8th minute. A minute later Eamon Flanagan shot wide when in a great position, and in the 10th minute Flanagan was in again only to see his shot well saved by David Dowd.

 

But Flanagan was on target for Athlleague’s opening goal in the 13th minute when he flicked a long delivery from Ben McGahon to the Four Roads net.

 

Four Roads only managed two first half points through Johnny Coyne and Conor Mulry, and Athleague’s second goal came in the 29th minute when David Flaherty pulled first time to drive home a sideline cut from Eamon Flanagan which flew across the danger area.

 

A Cormac Kelly point was the final score of the opening half, and having played with the gale force wind at their backs Athleague were 11 points up at the break.

 

Half-time score: Athleague 2-7 Four Roads 0-2.

 

Second half

 

Andrew Lawlor and Johnny Coyne were influential as Four Roads began their comeback in the second half but points from Eamon Flanagan and Robbie Fallon kept Athleague out in front.

 

By the 53rd minute the gap was down to six (2-9 to 0-9) before Flanagan and Lawlor exchanged points by the 60th minute. Robbie Fallon scored a lovely point from out on the sideline for Athleague, but with 7 minutes of injury-time signalled there was still plenty of time for Four Roads.

 

In the 66th minute Four Roads’ Cathal Dolan scored a brilliant goal from 25 metres out driving the ball into the top corner, and less than a minute later a point from Micheal Kelly left only a goal in it. But time finally ran out and Athleague had done enough to win it.

 

Final score: Athleague 2-11 Four Roads 1-11

 

Teams and Scorers

Athleague: David Connell; Alan Moore, David Delaney, JP Murray; Niall Connolly, Gary Fallon, Pat Nolan; Darragh Heavey, Aengus Lyons; Cormac Kelly (0-1), Eoghan Coyle (0-2), Eamon Flanagan (1-4, 2 frees); David Flaherty (1-0), Robbie Fallon (0-4), Ben McGahon. Subs: Cian Murray for McGahon (59), Tomas Connaughton for Heavey (64).

Four Roads: David Dowd; Cormac Coyle, Noel Fallon, Tomas Treacy; Shane Curley, Micheal Kelly (0-1), Diarmuid Treacy; Conor Coyle, Cathal Dolan (1-0); Brendan Kelly, Conor Mulry (0-2), Andrew Lawlor (0-5, 2 ‘65’s, 2 frees); Jamie Lawlor, Johnny Coyne (0-3), Enda Rogerson. Subs: Brendan Mulry for J Lawlor (h/t), Johnny Mulry for B Kelly (46), Jack Donnelly for C Coyle (50), Mark McLoughlin for Cormac Coyle (54).

 

Referee: Aaron Clogher

 

Stat Attack

Wides: Athleague 11 (8 first half) Four Roads 3 (1 first half)

Red cards: None

Yellow cards: None

Scores from play: Athleague: 2-9 Four Roads 1-7.

Man of the Match: Alan Moore (Athleague)

Note: The game was very well refereed by Aaron Clogher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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