Athenry FC 7
Ballinasloe Town 0
Mike Rafferty in Lecarrow
ATHENRY claimed a fifth Connacht Junior Cup crown in the last decade in Lecarrow on Sunday with an emphatic win over a Ballinasloe Town side who lost their way badly the latter stages.
Four goals in the closing ten minutes certainly brought a one-sided look to proceedings but the Roscommon League side did not help themselves either, with the dismissal of two players in a lack of discipline iate on.
Memories of the defeat against Mervue United in last year’s final were fresh in the minds of Athenry and they were the better side for the majority of this contest. An early goal gave them a reward for an industrious start and the second on the stroke of half time was really the point of no return for the Town.
“Conceding saps energy” said Ballinasloe manager Enda Concannon afterwards and to confirm the fact his side then spent the second half chasing shadows as Athenry pressed all the right buttons as they pulled away in embarrassing fashion.
However, it could have been so different if the home side had converted a terrific early chance, as just three minutes had elapsed when Mark Duffy set up Liam Lynch in the box, but the normally deadly striker dragged his effort across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
As it transpired it was to prove a crucial miss, as thereafter, Lynch and Duffy were kept under a tight reign by Declan Cullen and Paddy Quinn and their best opportunity of the game was gone.
Athenry had applied just light pressure before they made the breakthrough on 13 minutes. The set piece deliveries of Dan Cunningham were a thorn in the Town side for the duration and it was his corner that set up Gary Forde to finish at the far post for a 1-0 lead.
They continued to threaten as Cathal Fahy escaped behind the cover, but ‘keeper Aidan Fallon saved before the custodian was in the right place to also keep out an athletic bicycle kick by Conor Cannon.
The promptings of Daragh Concannon and David Nee in central midfield helped maintain some Ballinasloe consistency in the opening half and they went close to an equaliser on 23 minutes, when a back peddling TJ Forde had to tip over a stinging cross shot by Shane Tracey. Inexplicably, the match officials awarded a goal kick – in an error that was not their last of the day.
A Lynch cross then caused some panic in the Athenry rearguard, but following a goalmouth scramble, Shane Duffy lashed over from ten yards. As the half developed, it was Athenry who had more of a cutting edge about them.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.