Disappointing conclusion to league campaign as Athlone Town suffer Cobh home loss

Athlone Town’s Kurtis Byrne received his media ‘Player of the Year’ award from John Dingle and Liam Gaffey

Athlone Town’s Kurtis Byrne received his media ‘Player of the Year’ award from John Dingle and Liam Gaffey

ATHLONE TOWN 1 COBH RAMBLERS 2

In what proved to be Paul Doolin’s last game in charge, Athlone Town completed their 2021 First Division season in disappointing fashion when they were beaten at home by Cobh Ramblers last Friday night.

The promotion play-off spots had already been decided with only pride and a final league placing at stake. Cobh held a half time lead from the penalty spot but James Doona grabbed an equaliser after the hour mark. While in search of a winning goal, Athlone were caught out in defence as Cobh recorded their third win in a row.

Athlone needed to match Cork City’s result to finish in sixth spot. They opened positively as the first corner kick saw Killian Cantwell have a header saved with a second home corner soon following. Tunmise Sobowale’s long range effort was then tipped behind while another opportunity on 14 minutes saw Glen McAuley hit the bar with a strike.

The early good work was undone when Athlone gifted Ramblers the chance to open the scoring. Dylan Hand’s pass from defence was intercepted and Sobowale was adjudged to have handled a right wing cross which followed. Jason Abbott made no mistake when he drilled the resulting spot kick down the middle.

Athlone were almost back on level terms within a minute. Derek Daly’s left wing cross was nearly fumbled over the line by goalkeeper Sean Barron at his near post. Shane Barnes and Kurtis Byrne were then off target but Cobh’s first corner after 29 minutes could easily have seen the lead doubled, Jake Hegarty heading off the post.

Barron ensured the visitors would retain their lead when punching clear a goal bound effort from Sobowale. The Cobh keeper made another fine stop to deny Barnes while last chance of the half saw Rams scorer Abbott send a quickly taken free kick over the bar.

Athlone dominated the second half but somehow still ended up empty handed. An early corner was earned but Cobh had a good opportunity to double their lead on 53 minutes, Hegarty’s shot on the turn was put behind with a follow up header from the corner also cleared behind.

Athlone got into their attacking stride once more. Byrne sent a shot on the turn wide. The equaliser finally arrived after an hour of play as Barnes fed Doona on the left, the winger grabbing his third goal in four games with a low shot to the net.

Athlone were now in chase of a winner. McAuley fired just wide with Doona also off target and a further corner kept up the home pressure.

Having looked more likely to grab the winner, Athlone were again generous to Cobh. After 81 minutes, substitute Danny O’Connell forced the ball home from close range as the home defence failed to clear the danger from a counter attack. The response from Doolin’s men was positive as McAuley had a shot blocked and also had shouts for a penalty turned down, butAthlone could not grab an equaliser they deserved.

 

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