Wexford Youths seal promotion with victory over Athlone Town

Sam O'Connor of Athlone Town in action against Wexford Youths' Lee Grace in the League of Ireland First Division. Photo: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Sam O'Connor of Athlone Town in action against Wexford Youths' Lee Grace in the League of Ireland First Division. Photo: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Wexford Youths secured promotion to the top flight by cruising to a convincing SSE Airtricity League First Division win over Athlone Town at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday evening.

Athlone defended admirably for the majority of the contest before two late goals from Wexford sealed the deal. Alan Mathews’ side made Wexford earn this success as the Midlanders started brightly in front of a healthy crowd at the south-east venue.

Early on the visitors spurned a couple of chances as Lee Grace blocked a Sam O’Connor attempt, while Daniel Purdy also drilled a free kick wide. After those Athlone misses Wexford dictated the game as the Midlanders’ goalkeeper Paddy Dunican was forced to make a string of fine saves.

Inevitably, the prolific Danny Furlong was a threat as his movement caused Athlone problems throughout the match. Eric Molloy was another significant influence for Wexford, who were repeatedly thwarted by the impressive Dunican.

Athlone were content to depart at the interval on terms, but the complexion of the evening changed after the restart. On the hour mark Furlong supplied a sweet 60th-minute header to put Wexford ahead. Wexford were nearly caught out three minutes later, but O’Connor failed to convert as the home side survived a scare.

Late on Wexford sealed the deal as Eric Molloy thumped in a delightful second, finishing with a flourish. Aidan Keenan decorated Wexford’s triumph with a third goal which confirmed their promotion.

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