Championship football often throws up its fair share of surprises but there were no major shocks to report after round one of the Shay Murtagh senior football championship. Athlone’s three point win over last year’s beaten finalists will have taken some by surprise but would hardly register as a shock. St Malachy’s came very close to pulling off a major upset over hot favourites Mullingar Shamrocks, losing out by a single point. Tubberclare marked their return to senior ranks with a one point win over Killucan while Castledaly and the Downs played out a draw. Meanwhile reigning champions Garrycastle got their title defence off to a winning start with three points to spare over Tyrrellspass.
Athlone v St Loman’s
St Loman’s 0-9
Goals win matches and thankfully from an Athlone point of view we managed to bag three majors in the opening half. Mickey Greene showed his eye for goal with two well taken three-pointers while John Connellan claimed the third.
While one swallow doesn’t make a summer it is nice to have got off to a winning start. Both sides will know that they will have to improve if they are to be in the shake-up later this year.
Three points over the course of the hour is far from prolific but the Athlone forward line was living off scraps following the dismissal of fullback Gary Quinn. What will most please new Athlone boss Malachy Gately was the battling qualities displayed by his side when a man down, something which had been lacking in recent years.
Tubberclare are next up for Athlone in a game fixed for Tang at 7pm on Saturday week, May 15, while St Loman’s face Maryland in their next encounter.
Garrycastle v Tyrrellspass
Reigning champions Garrycastle laid down a marker that they won’t give up their crown too quickly as they accounted for Tyrrellspass in an easier manner than the final scoreline might suggest. On this display they are very much the team to beat in this year’s championship.
Paddy Mulvihill kicked two points from centre forward in an impressive display, while Dessie Dolan and the Dollar Daly bagged the goals. Dessie finished with 1-3 to his name and showed he can turn it on when needed.
Tyrrellspass are still likely to make the knockout stages but have a lot of improving to do if they are to down the green and reds, should they meet later in the year.
Tubberclare v Killucan
Killucan can count themselves unlucky not to have taken something from this encounter. Having looked the most likely winners for long periods of the game, the concession of a soft goal with seven minutes remaining, seemed to take the wind from their sails. That goal brought Tubberclare level but Ian Coffey soon had Tom Lennon’s men ahead. While Killucan did equalise again, it was Tubberclare who finished stronger and held on for a one point win.
Paul Greville put in a fine display for the eventual losers, kicking six points. However his side were left to rue the nine wides they kicked over the hour.
Tubberclare will be delighted to have got off to a winning start, especially as they were forced to start without the injured Simon Lawless and only introduced Fergal Wilson during the second half.
Castledaly v The Downs
The Downs 1-11
Neither side can complain at the outcome of this game which either side could have won. The Downs were the more impressive team in the opening quarter kicking six points at one stage without reply. Castledaly however bagged two goals against the run of play to leave the half-time score 2-2 to 0-08.
An early second-half penalty edged The Downs three points in front but Castledaly fought back with two MJ McLoughlin points. The remainder of the game was tit-for-tat and with both sides squandering match winning chances near the death, neither side will complain about the draw.
Mullingar Shamrocks v St Malachy’s
Mullingar Shamrocks 1-09
St Malachy’s 0-11
Mullingar Shamrocks were left thanking their lucky stars after snatching a one point win over an unfancied St Malachy’s. Indeed if Malachy’s had been more economical up front then the outcome would surely have been different.
Shamrocks started brightly and looked as though they would have little problem claiming both points. However the dismissal of Gary Corroon after twenty minutes as well as the forced withdrawal of Denis Corroon through injury completely disrupted the Mullingar sides flow. The Saints turned a two-point half-time deficit into a one point lead shortly after the break and an upset looked on the cards.
Both sides edged in front at different stages of the second half but as the game entered the closing stages a draw seemed the most likely outcome. Darren Moore had other ideas however and he fired over a great individual winner.
While Malachy’s deserved at least a draw, Shamrocks will be relieved to have sneaked a win. They will still be a force in this year’s championship.
Eoin Grennan was the toast of Mount Temple as his late point gave Caulry a winning return to the intermediate ranks, with a 1-11 to 1-10 win over Moate All Whites. Moate started the brighter in this well-attended game in Pairc Ciaran last Friday, and led 1-2 to no score after ten minutes. Gradually Brendan Clarke’s young guns began to find their feet and Robbie Kenny gave the reds a huge lift with a well-taken goal.
Caulry led by a point at the break and proceedings remained tight throughout the second half. With the sides level, up popped Grennan to fire over the winner and claim two valuable points.
Elsewhere Bunbrosna flagged their intentions for this year with a six-point win over Ballynacaragy. Bun look like the team to beat at this early stage. Tang proved too strong for Ballinagore while St Mary’s Rochfortbridge and Rosemount shared the spoils. C/F/C/W proved too strong for Ballymore while Shandonagh had two points to spare over Kilbeggan.
125 Celebrations for Athlone GAA
This year marks a significant milestone in the history of Athlone GAA as it celebrates its 125th birthday. While this Sunday May 9 every GAA club in the country will be hosting events to mark La na gClub, the celebrations will be even greater in Athlone as all the stops are pulled out to mark the historic occasion.
Proceedings will get under way at 1pm with a parade through the town from St Peter’s Square to Pairc Ciaran. A number of bands will be taking part while there will be entertainment of every kind, and for every age, at the club throughout the afternoon.
A big turnout is expected in what promises to be a great day for all involved in the club.