Despite a spirited second-half rally, Athlone still suffered a Leinster Intermediate final 2-13 to 2-9 defeat against Ratoath at Mullingar on Saturday.
Trailing 2-8 to 0-4 at the interval Athlone came storming back after the restart, but Ratoath had inflicted sufficient damage before the break. It meant Athlone were left to reflect on their initial difficulties as Ratoath claimed provincial silverware.
With a Croke Park appearance the reward for reaching an all-Ireland decider, Athlone will be bitterly disappointed that this particular journey has ended. So impressive in the earlier rounds of the competition, Athlone paid a heavy price for a shaky start last weekend. Ratoath proved to be able opponents scoring early and often in the opening period.
Admirably, Athlone attempted to force their way into the reckoning, but the gap was too wide and Ratoath celebrated a stirring triumph. Meanwhile, Gary Connaughton will not serve as a selector for Tom Cribbin’s Westmeath senior footballers in 2016.