Jubilant scenes as Athlone strike late to win inaugural Under-15 title
Athlone Town 2 St Patrick's Athletic 1
There was late drama in Lissywollen as Dylan Gavin netted in the final minute of play to guide Athlone Town to victory in their SSE Airtricity National Under 15 League Final against St Patrick's Athletic.
The first chance of the game fell to Saints midfielder Cian Kavanagh but Athlone goalkeeper Sean O’Toole was alert to make the save. Athlone replied by earning the first corner kick which saw Israel Kimazos' shot tipped over the bar by the other keeper Aaron Davis.
St Pat's opened the scoring after 11 minutes following a cross from the left. Kavanagh mishit his effort but Kyle Conway was close by and he drilled a low shot into the net from just inside the penalty area, scoring against his hometown team.
The visitors could have doubled their lead moments later but O’Toole made a good block with his legs to deny Kavanagh from close range.
The away pressure continued with Kian Corbally just clearing the bar with a shot. Athlone were struggling to get into the game with Republic of Ireland underage international Gavin well held by the Saints defence.
The best chance of an equaliser came on the half hour mark when Ronan Garvan's dipping shot just cleared the crossbar. Kavanagh, Conor Power and Kenny Lee all had chances for the Saints as the first half progressed. The lead though stayed at just a single goal when the half-time whistle sounded.
Most of the danger came from St Pat's. Lee sprung the game back to life after 20 minutes when his fine strike was tipped over by O’Toole who was keeping Athlone in contention.
The visitors were rocked, however, when the home side equalised from the penalty spot after 25 minutes. Daragh Reilly was adjudged to have fouled Adam Lennon and Gavin assumed responsibility for the spot kick. His initial attempt was brilliantly pushed away by Davis but no mistake was made with the follow up.
Fired up by the equaliser, Athlone now went in search of the lead. Five corners in as many minutes had Dermot Lennon’s side on top as the game entered the closing stages. Conway had a late chance to restore the Saints' lead from a free-kick but once more O’Toole proved equal.
The game looked to be heading to extra-time when Athlone struck for the winner. Two minutes into stoppage time Gavin broke clear and the home crowd erupted when his shot from inside the box found the net past the keeper’s right. There was just enough time for the game to restart when the final whistle sounded to start the home celebrations in earnest.
SSE Airtricity League chairman Eamon Naughton then presented the trophy to Athlone captain Kimazo with Gavin named as Man of the Match.
Athlone Town: O'Toole; Cummins, O'Carroll, Farrell, Keenan; Kimazo, Lennon, Garvan, Gavin; McCormack (Devine 46), Reynolds.
St Patrick's Athletic: Davis; O'Callaghan, Reilly, Power, Delaney; Holt, Lee, Conway, Kavanagh, Leavy; Corbally (Darcy 70).
Referee: Declan Toland.