ATHLONE TOWN 3 UCD 2
Athlone Town’s already extended season continues as they progressed to the semi-finals of the Leinster Senior Cup last Monday night.
The competitive campaign had started with the defeat of Dundalk and a second Premier Division scalp was claimed at home with UCD the victims. Ciaran Grogan was the hero when he struck for the winner in the second minute of stoppage time to complete a sensational comeback from the Town.
UCD were almost at full strength as they looked for success in the oldest cup competition in Ireland. The tie had a lively opening with three goals being scored in the first 17 minutes.
The hosts opened the scoring after six minutes through John Morgan. The full back raided down the left to lift the ball over the advancing goalkeeper following an accurate cross from Kealan Dillon.
The lead was short-lived though as the visitor’s soon drew level. Jason McClelland sent a low shot past the keepers left from just outside the penalty box. UCD then took the lead on 17 minutes. An exchange of passes on the edge of the box created the opening for Yoyo Mahdy who volleyed to the roof of the net.
The only change made by Town boss Terry Butler was a crucial one. Adam Lennon came on just past the midway point of the half and was the spark behind the sensational Town comeback. Athlone were denied by the woodwork just before the break. Darren Meenan set up Dillon whose strike crashed off the crossbar. The midfielder ended the action in the opening half when drilling a free kick over as UCD headed off with a slender advantage.
The second half was less than a minute old when Athlone again came close to grabbing an equaliser. Rhys Gorman got his head to a corner kick but Conor Kearns got down well to push the ball behind. It was then Lennon’s turn to show his skills with two further chances.
Athlone were on top for much of the second half and the pressure finally paid off after 69 minutes. Shane Dunne passed to Lennon whose strike took a deflection to loop over the stranded College keeper. Lennon was again off target with a further shot.
A rare UCD attack saw Mahdy have a strike deflected behind. Athlone again had the ball in the net with five minutes remaining but Lennon’s effort was ruled out for offside. The Town substitute had a further attempt clear the bar while, in the final minute, the visitors had an opportunity to retake the lead, but Jack Keaney’s free kick however cleared the bar.
Extra time was beckoning as the game headed into the three additional minutes. There was to be a sensational ending when Athlone struck for the winner in the second minute. Centre half Grogan is not a renowned scorer but showed deadly accuracy as a late Athlone attack paid off. The number fives shot to the net past the keeper’s right completed an amazing comeback and a place in the last four.