Athlone advanced to their first Westmeath SFC semi-final since 2003 following last Wednesday’s win over Mullingar Shamrocks at Tubberclair.
A good second-half display from Athlone proved to be sufficient as Mullingar Shamrocks were left to reflect on what might have been. Shamrocks had controlled large spells of the opening period departing 1-7 to 0-4 ahead at the interval. But Athlone stormed back to secure a two-point victory as Shamrocks only registered three scores in the closing half hour of play.
It had all started so brightly for Shamrocks, who responded to the concession of a John Connellan point by reeling off 1-3 without reply. Seanie Daly and Ciaran Curley landed points before Shamrocks pounced for a goal. Denis Corroon was fouled and Seanie Daly converted the resultant penalty.
Leading by six at the turnaround, Shamrocks appeared to be in a commanding position, but Athlone replied in impressive fashion. John Connellan and Jordan Marshment caused Shamrocks problems, while Ray Connellan marked his return from injury with a brilliant cameo. Noel Mulligan’s pass found Ray Connellan, who buried a fine goal as Athlone seized the initiative.
Then John Connellan provided the assist for brother Ray Connellan, who steered Athlone in front. Shamrocks did restore parity, but a fisted point from Marshment and a splendid effort from John Connellan sealed the deal.
It was a hugely encouraging result for Athlone, who now face Tyrrellspass at Cusack Park on Sunday. That promises to be a similarly interesting encounter with both clubs quietly confident about reaching the county decider.
St Loman’s and Killucan also clash at the Mullingar venue this weekend. Killucan have been efficient throughout the campaign earning wins and admirers with their hardworking approach. So two interesting and revealing games are expected as the Westmeath SFC enters a critical phase.
Raharney advanced to the Westmeath SHC final following a comfortable win over Lough Lene Gaels, while Clonkill and Castletowngeoghegan were involved in a replay last (Wednesday ) night.