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Astros reign supreme in classic showdown

IT'S a measure of the quality of Astro Villa that they have defended their Champions League crown with a deserved success over The Auld Fellas in Saturday's Grand Final at Coolock Astro Park.

Last time out in the Grand Final, Astro Villa had an emphatic 7-1 win over the same oppostition, but this time, they were forced to work extremely hard to secure back-to-back crowns and the €1000 prize.

The Auld Fellas had learned well and were certainly worthy finalists and they were to take the lead in the eight minute when Keith Sargent strode forward to set up Stephen Whelan to blast home at the back post.

This was a very tactical encounter with the Auld Fellas sitting deep and trying to hit the pacy Astro Villa on the break.

Both goalkeepers - Derek Whelan and John Kelly are first class netminders and rare sights on goal were more than capably dealt with by safe hands.

But it was from one counter-attack that the pacy Astro levelled. Stephen Brown raided down the left flank and squeezed the ball home from an acute angle on 13 minutes.

Villa's lead strike on 15 minutes was a copy of their first with another of the Brown brothers - this time James finding the net with a rising shot from another tight angle after another rapid-fire breakout.

The Auld Fellas began the second period in attacking mode and were rewarded when Karl Garvey skipped a couple of tackles to slide home the equaliser two minutes in.

Stephen Whelan was unlucky to find the side netting as Villa realised they had a real challenge on their hands.

Frayed nerves were settled as Darragh Hanaphy turned provider for Karl Moore to restore the lead for Astro Villas.

The defining moment of the game arrived when the talented Glenn Coughlan was upended inside the area.

He took the spot kick himself but agonisingly crashed his kick off the crossbar. Within a minute the Auld Fellas were reduced to four after having a player sin-binned. Astro then took swift control as first James Brown fired home, and, with a little daylight finally opening up between the sides, Astro capped off their title success when all five on pitch players combined to see Dave Brown net the goal of the game and guarantee the €1000 prize stayed in Coolock.

"We're really thrilled with the win," said skipper Paul Maguire

"The Auld Fellas are an excellent side and made us work really hard for the win. We're going to use the prize as spending money on the trip we won for the first Grand Final win."