St Mel’s College suffered an eight point defeat against Athlone Community College in the North Leinster Senior ‘A’ Football League final played at the St. Brigid’s GAA grounds in Kiltoom on Friday last. Having defeated the reigning All-Ireland champions Edenderry in the semi-final encounter earlier in the week, St. Mel’s failed to recapture the same level of intensity and were forced into playing catch up for long periods of this entertaining contest. This game may have come a bit too soon for the Longford School especially after their bruising extra-time clash against the Offaly outfit. Indeed during the second half exchanges in the final, St. Mel’s started to display signs of fatigue and seizing the opportunity to capitalise on their opponents weakness, Athlone upped the stakes in the final quarter to run out worthy winners. St. Mel’s played an attractive style of football in the early stages using the quick off load to resounding effect. Killoe duo Paddy Kiernan and Larry Moran displayed excellent composure in front of the posts while a free from Killian Farrell put them into a two point lead. Athlone fired their first warning shot in the 22nd minute when they netted a somewhat fortuitous goal.
A long ball pumped into the St. Mel’s goalmouth was fumbled by their keeper Shane Fitzpatrick into the path of corner-forward Jack Quinn and he was on hand to place the ball into the back of the St. Mel’s net. Growing in confidence with each passing minute, the Westmeath school extended their lead to five points thanks to fine individual efforts from Senan Farrell and Keith Dolan before the half-time break. In the second half Athlone sustained their onslaught inside the St. Mel’s half and Killian Bannon and Keith Dolan added two quick points to put them firmly in control. St. Mel’s tried hard to get back into contention and three points through Niall Kelly, Paddy Kiernan and Killian Farrell reduced the deficit but Athlone made certain of the league title with a second goal from Eoin McCormack on the stroke of full-time. ST. MEL’S: Shane Fitzpatrick; Dessie Reynolds, Niall Keenan, Shane Kelly; Ronan Duffy, Daniel Cox, John Lynch; Paddy Kiernan (0-2), Alan Sorohan (0-1); Larry Moran (0-4, one free), Niall Kelly (0-1), Shane Tully; Killian Farrell (0-3, two frees) Adrian Duffy, Liam Hughes. Subs used:- James Heffernan, Kryspin Pliszczynski, Oisin Flanagan and Nathan Conroy. ATHLONE CC: Eoghan Slevin; Martin Flannery, Michael McMahon, Matthew Darling; Keith Dolan, Ronan Daly, Eric Kearney; Brian Shaughnessy, Ray Connellan; Eoin Fallon, Senan Farrell, Conor Mulroy; Kenny O’Brien, Jack Quinn, Eoin McCormack. Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).