Joe Mallon SFC round one
While the scoreline might suggest differently, it was a relatively comfortable opening round win for Athy in Saturday evening's championship fixture against their local rivals Castledermot. They began the game without some of their regulars such as Barry Kelly, Mick Foley and Pascal Connell, while Darroch Mulhall was also introduced off the bench, and though Castledermot managed chip down an eight-point lead that Athy held with 12 minutes to go, it was always going to be a step too far for Damien Hendy's men.
Being honest, the first half was pretty forgettable as neither side really opened out their chests and expressed themselves fully, though one could tell that there was plenty more left in Athy if they really need to up the gears. They could have conceded a goal as early as the first minute however, as Gavin Farrell's long ball evaded the Athy full-back line and found its way to Gavin Keating, but his goalbound effort was batted away by goalkeeper Marc Prior.
Athy eventually opened the scoring in the fourth minute through a Liam McGovern free, while the first point from play arrived two minutes later when Niall Kelly pierced the posts with a fine effort. Castledermot got their scoring underway when Gavin Keating floated over a stunning effort from long range that dropped just over Prior's bar, but McGovern cancelled that out with his second free.
Willie Kelly and David Hyland swapped points at either end after that, but Athy soon wrestled control of the tie as they struck three points on the bounce that really seemed to deflate the Castledermot challenge. Kelly and McGovern both kicked points from play, and the pick of the bunch came from Cian Reynolds when he slotted over after a fine move that saw the Hyland brothers - David and Mark - carry the ball up the field together.
Points from Kelly and David Keating for Castledermot helped to narrow the gap somewhat, but McGovern landed another free just before the break to send Athy in with an 0-8 to 0-4 interval advantage.
The leaders were able to spring county senior panelist Pascal Connell from the bench for the second half, further strengthening their hand, and Castledermot would have known that they were in need of a strong start if they were to have any chance of clawing their way back into the game. It was quite the opposite however as Athy started the half in confident fashion by kicking four unanswered points, and Castledermot failed to even hit the target in the first 19 minutes after the resumption.
Kevin Feely showed his class with his only point of the game with a beautiful long rang score shortly after the restart, while Adrian Kelly also posted an impressive point at the end of a free-flowing Athy move. McGovern and David Hyland also pointed either side of seeing Castledermot's Paddy Whelan leather a powerful shot off the bar, but with the scoreboard reading 0-12 to 0-4 with 12 minutes to go, it was a case of damage limitation for the blues.
They managed to rally well however, and a free from substitute Dan Gray along with another effort from a placed ball courtesy of Pauric Murphy, the gap was down to six points. McGovern responded almost instantly to put any threat of a revival to bed when he curled over an excellent point however, and though Gavin Keating made things somewhat interesting when he bundled home a goal with six minutes left to play, Athy never really looked in any bother as they saw the game out comfortably.
Scorers for Athy: L McGovern 0-6(4f), N Kelly and D Hyland 0-2 each, K Feely, C Reynolds and A Kelly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Castledermot: G Keating 1-1, D Gray and W Kelly 0-2 each, D Keating, O Doherty and P Murphy(1f) 0-1 each.
M Prior; T Foley, C Ronan(P Connell ht), K Mulhall; T Gibbons, M Hyland, J Moran; D Hyland , K Feely; C Reynolds, T Martin(S Ronan 56mins), L McGovern; J Eaton, A Kelly(D Mulhall 60mins), N Kelly.
P Murphy; B Kelly, B Nolan, T Murphy; L Cosgrove, P Murphy, B Nolan(D Dooley 55mins); G Farrell, P Whelan; A Lawlor(JJ Mahon 30mins), D Keating, W Kelly(S Byrne 56mins); D Farrell(D Gray 40mins), F O'Gorman(O Doherty 50mins), G Keating.
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