Athlone junior men’s team gained their first win of the championship campaign when they defeated neighbours Garrycastle in the derby match played in Páirc Chiaráin on Thursday evening (August 10 ).
This victory brings Athlone back into contention for the playoff spot as all teams in Group 3 have now lost at least one game.
Having lost players to the seniors and to holidays, Garrycastle were down eight players since the first round. In spite of this they competed well.
Athlone started brightly with an early Richie Greene free after Michael Doolan had been fouled following a strong run, but they suffered a blow when a mistake in defence led to a goal for the visitors courtesy of Paul O’Donovan.
However, Athlone responded to this setback in fine style, and a superb solo goal from Darren Costello was followed almost immediately by a second when Joe Fallon swept home the rebound after a Sean Dowd shot had been saved.
Further points from Greene, Costello, Luke Dully, and Benny Martin were matched by four similar Garrycastle scores, as the sides went tit-for-tat for the majority of the half. But the home side got a major boost just before the interval when Benny Martin finished off a brilliant move for the third goal. Andy Lynam and Joe Fallon then added late points to give Athlone a half-time lead of 3-7 to 1-4.
The home side began the second half as they had ended the first, with a Joe Fallon point straight from the throw-in, after Diarmuid Martin and Colin O’Leary had combined well to set him up. More points followed from Richie Greene, Joe Fallon, Sean Dowd, Darren Costello and Benny Martin as Athlone played some excellent football.
Diarmuid Martin then made the game safe when he fisted home his side’s fourth goal from close range after being intelligently set up by David Cleary. Although Garrycastle staged a mini-revival with a goal from Alan Daly and two pointed frees, Athlone finished strongly with excellent long range points from Cathal Joyce, Diarmuid Martin, and Benny Martin, to leave the final score Athlone 4-17 Garrycastle 2-8.
It was a difficult evening for the Garrycastle players, but the largely inexperienced team gave their best.
Athlone still have group games remaining against Caulry in Mount Temple on Thursday, August 24, at 7pm, and against Rosemount on Tuesday, August 29.