Last weekend saw some positive results for the underage teams representing the U15 age group in the Athlone Town set-up.
Firstly, Athlone’s Dublin Schoolboy League outfit shared the spoils with Leixlip, and this was followed by further success for the Athlone SSE Airtricity League team.
First into action were the Dublin Schoolboy League Premier One team as they welcomed Kildare team Leixlip to Athlone last Friday night (November 3 ).
Defences were on top form throughout and a point apiece was probably a fair result. This is a very young team with many still eligible to play next season and while it has been a learning curve to date the future still looks bright. There was little action in the opening half, and while the visitors had slightly better chances, the home keeper was equal to anything thrown at him.
Leixlip had the first attempt on goal after six minutes when Alex Barrett fired over. Athlone replied with close effort from Ian Harney. The best opportunity of the half fell to Dean O’Donoghue, but his shot from the edge of the penalty area was blocked by Conor Brum.
There was much more in the way of goalmouth action on the resumption of play but both defences still held firm. O’Donoghue had an early shot saved, while Tom Cloonan had the first Town chance when trying his luck from long range. The Athlone keeper was proving hard to beat as he denied the visitors on a couple of occasions thereafter.
Athlone’s best chance came midway through the half when Conor Murphy fired goalwards from the edge of the six yard box, but his strike was saved. Athlone’s Josh Flynn then had a shot saved, while Brian Nestor kept up the home pressure when further testing the keeper.
Leixlip regained the upper hand as full-time approached, but when Ryan O’Connor got in a great block to deny the visitors, the Town looked set to secure a valuable point. There could have been a dramatic winner though for the visitors deep into stoppage time as a goalmouth scramble saw the ball bounce around the danger zone. Athlone finally cleared the danger and were relieved to hear the referee blow for full-time.
An early start the next day saw the SSE Airtricity League U15 side make the long journey to take on Waterford FC in the quarter final. It is never easy to get anything at the Regional Sports Centre, but The Town returned home with a place in the last four after scoring the only goal of the game.
The winner came after 25 minutes of play, when Israel Kimazo found the net with a great strike from long range. Athlone managed to hold onto their lead as play flowed from end to end. With the defence on top of their game, Athlone emerged narrow winners. St Patricks Athletic, Finn Harps and either Bray Wanderers or Wexford are all possible opponents in the eagerly awaited semi-final draw.