The boost of an opening Westmeath senior football championship round robin fixture not realised, Athlone manager, Liam McHale, noted his disappointment as his charges succumbed to a four point loss to local rivals and current Flanagan Cup holders, Garrycastle, in Tubberclair on Sunday evening.
Played in deceptive wind conditions, Athlone started proceedings positively and an early Danny Reid goal, the culmination of a flowing move incorporating a majestic Ray Connellan pass had the Pairc Chiarain based club in the ascendancy by two points after 15 minutes.
Despite Ritchie Greene netting an opportunist goal soon after the first half water break, Athlone failed to build upon their momentum and holding a minimum lead at the interval (2-3 TO 0-8 ) despite playing with the elements proved detrimental to the final scoreboard outcome.
Ascending in the possession percentages as the game progressed, an experienced Garrycastle team, for whom stalwarts John Gaffey and Doron Harte were influential, gradually gained controlled of the local derby fixture to seal a much sought after opening brace of championship points.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser post game, the Athlone supremo pitched a disappointed tone when addressing playing proceedings.
“The outcome on Sunday evening was one of immense disappointment. Our play in possession was not as it should have been and for large periods we slowed the game down when the ball should have been moving from the hand much much quicker than it was.
“We lost our composure during important moments in the game and when you are playing against a team as experienced as Garrycastle you cannot afford to do so.
“I was delighted with the manner in which we scored our two goals but we failed to build momentum and allowed our opponents to work their way back into the contest. I just thought that with the benefit of the elements in the first half, a one point interval lead may not be enough,” Liam asserted.
Noting that the concession of marks to Garrycastle forwards within the scoring zone was detrimental to the final scoreline outcome, Liam noted the need for Athlone to be more positive with their decision making and playing execution when Caulry provide the opposition in their next round robin outing, a game which could decide which of two teams advance to the knockout phase of this year’s championship.
“We retained possession well at times during the game on Sunday but our decision making proved costly at certain moments. We also need to improve upon our discipline if we are going to make progress in this championship.
“We have three weeks to prepare for the Caulry fixture and that is needed to lift confidence and ensure that we approach and contest that game knowing that the final result may determine if we are to make progress in the championship,” Liam concluded.