O’Neill Keeps Tullamore In Title Race

Tullamore Town 3. Athy Town 0.

THE Tullamore boys kept their title challenge well on course with this comfortable win over fourth placed Athy Town in Leah Victoria Park last Saturday.

They hit the front on ten minutes when the visitors’ keeper, Shane Foley, completely misjudged a through ball from Mark Casey, leaving Terry Byrne with the simple task of rolling it into the empty net.

As they looked to press home their advantage Shane Martino twice fired in dangerous crosses from the right while at the other end Malcolm Ogoboue flashed his effort past the right post when well placed.

Byrne created danger when he slipped the ball inside to Martino but his shot was charged down and then Gary Hutchinson picked out Arron Hensey, but his cross was knocked behind.

Martino played a great ball through to Hensey but he was crowded out and then a tremendous twenty five yard drive from Hutchinson was brilliantly tipped around the post by Foley.

With Nathan Germaine outstanding at the back and Aaron Meade working tirelessly in midfield, Athy managed to keep the Tullamore forwards at bay but they were not to be denied on thirty five minutes when, following a corner, Adam Shelly rose above the defence to power his header into the roof of the net to put his side two up at the interval.
Tullamore continued to press on the resumption with Terry Byrne, Gary Hutchinson and Shane Martino combining to create an opening for Arron Hensey, but his header was well saved.

Hutchinson then swept the ball out to Macdarragh O’Neill on the left and his low cross picked out Mark Casey but his effort was deflected wide.

O’Neill’s quick feet and close control ensured that the visitors’ defence was in a constant state of high alert, and they fell further behind on the hour.

A wonderful move involving Hutchinson, Casey and Gareth Byrne saw the ball swept out to O’Neill, and Athy’s tormentor in chief cut in from the left before drilling his shot under the diving Shane Foley and into the back of the net.
They again threatened when O’Neill cut the ball back to Michael James but his effort was blocked and then Hutchinson and Rory Condron combined to find O’Neill who brilliantly slipped his marker, but his low cross was cleared.

As they continued to press, O’Neill picked out Gary Hutchinson but his long range effort flew over and then Hutchinson and Dillon Melia combined to set up Ted Conway, but his shot was charged down.

Good play on the right by James created an opportunity for Hutchinson, but again his effort was too high and then Adam Shelly played a great ball through to Conway but he fired wide as the home side ran out deserving winners.
Tullamore are at home to second placed Abbeyleix Athletic this Wednesday, 18th April, at 6.45 pm when they hope to further narrow the gap at the top between themselves and Edenderry Town in what is developing into a thrilling title race.

In a very entertaining game there were excellent contributions from Adam Shelly, Diarmuid Carroll, Gareth Byrne and Gary Hutchinson with Aaron Meade, Nathan Germaine and Kevin Moran the pick of the visitors, but the man of the match award went to Tullamore’s outstanding striker, Macdarragh O’Neill.

Tullamore: Patrick Dunican; Matthew Hynes, Diarmuid Carroll, Adam Shelly, Gareth Byrne, Shane Martino, Mark Casey, Gary Hutchinson, Macdarragh O’Neill, Terry Byrne, Arron Hensey. Subs: Michael James, Ross Kinnarney, Rory Condron, Dillon Melia and Ted Conway (all used).