Athlone minors qualified for the Division 1 championship final with a hard fought 2-12 to 1-12 win over The Downs last Saturday in Moate.
Two goals in the first seven minutes set the tone for Athlone, as they took a lead that they would never relinquish. The first goal was an exquisite finish low into the corner from Benny Martin, while the second was a typical bullet finish from Josh Beaumont.
Sandwiched in between this was the first of four 45s from Kieran Colclough, who gave an exhibition of striking off the ground. Benny Martin scored a free after he had been fouled, and further points followed from Luke Kelly, Shane Allen and from another Colclough 45.
The Downs then began a period of dominance, but the defence worked very hard to keep Athlone in front, and two more Colclough 45s made it 2-7 to 0-7 at half-time.
Playing against the elements in the second half, Benny Martin gave Athlone the good start they needed with a fine score. However, The Downs got right back into the game with a goal after a flicked finish to the net, and this was followed by a pointed 45 to reduce the deficit to three points.
The Downs really tested the mettle of the Athlone defence after this, but to a man the latter stood up to the challenge and kept their opponents scoreless from the 40th minute to the 55th, while in this time they re-established their six point lead with points from Benny Martin, Josh Beaumont and Mark Egan.
Just as the finish line was in sight, The Downs battled back again and finished the game strongly with four points to Athlone’s one, a free from Benny Martin. Fortunately for Athlone, The Downs were unable to find the goal that they needed. Athlone hung on to set up a final appearance against St Loman’s of Mullingar on the bank holiday weekend.
Athlone: John Duddy, Joe Devins, James Finlass, Paddy Ryan, Donagh Prendergast, Diarmaid Martin, Paddy McGettigan, Kieran Colclough (0-4 ), Shane Allen (0-1 ), JJ Offorjama, Luke Kelly (0-1 ), Mark Egan (0-1 ), Josh Beaumont (1-1 ), Stephen O’Connor, Benny Martin (1-4 ). Subs used: Conor Rushe, Sean Dowd, David Cleary, and Niall Doolan.