McMahon the hero for jubilant Athlone
Published 21/02/2013 | 04:00
ATHLONE Community College edged out St Joseph's Fairview in a dramatic penalty shoot-out to claim the Leinster Senior Schools Cup final in Mullingar.
The teams could not be separated in 110 minutes of action and Athlone goalkeeper Michael McMahon, who saved the first spot-kick in the shoot-out, eventually settled the game by stroking home the 20th penalty.
In the end, it was agony for last year's beaten semi-finalists – who had fought back from two penalties down earlier in the shoot-out – and, in particular, substitute Thomas Murphy.
For Athlone, it proved to be second time lucky after they lost the 2011 showpiece to another Dublin outfit, St Benildus College.
With both sides looking to make up for recent near misses in the competition, it was hardly a surprise that this was the tightest O'Neill Cup final in recent years.
An uneventful first half produced little excitement of note, apart from a jinking run from Athlone's Irish schools representative Eoin McCormack and a back-post volley off target from St Joseph's Ciaran Doyne just before the break.
Paul Gannon should have done better with a free header from Doyne's corner early in the second period, before Athlone substitute Chris Reid somehow headed over on the line as McCormack found him with a cross from the left.
St Joseph's had the ball in the Athlone net from a Doyne corner in the final minutes of normal time, but the goal was ruled out for a push on McMahon. Extra-time came and went with only St Joseph's defender Ross Mason's late red card worthy of note.
At the end of a gripping shoot-out, it came down to Murphy's heartbreak and McMahon's jubilation.
ATHLONE CC – McMahon, Hayden, Darling, Quinn, Daly, Shaughnessy (Kiernan 83), Nevin, Connelan, Rosney (Reid 68), McCormack, Kearney.
ST JOSEPH'S CBS – Conroy, Mason, Gannon, Grouse (Kelly 83), Bowe, Byrne, Doyne, Gannon , Dongo, Devlin (Murphy 94), Doyne.
REF – R Matthews.