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Next Senior Women's Match: Sat, June 22nd (A) crest
Next Senior Men's Match: Fri, June 28th (H) crest

Men’s Match Report: Finn Harps (A)

Our Senior Men travelled north to Balleybofey to take on Finn Harps on Monday 3rd June 2024. This is a tricky fixture for Athlone, having lost the last meeting in Finn Park back in Week 3 of the League of Ireland First Division.

Since then, both teams have had relatively strong campaigns, and both sit in the play-off positions in the table. When the sides last met in Athlone Town Stadium, Athlone ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a Dean Ebbe header, so they go into this fixture honours even for 2024.

Athlone went into this game with a number of selection issues. Aaron Connolly was serving a suspension, German Fuentes Rodriquez was away on international duty, and both Carl Mujaguzi and Mathew Leal were out injured.

Athlone started the match well and their first opening came on the fifth minute, when a long diagonal ball from the centre circle by Oisin Duffy released Jamar Campion-Hinds who reached the ball on the end line but his cross was blocked for Athlone’s first corner, but this was cleared with ease. Oisin and Jamar combined once again minutes later, but his looped cross was cleared by the Harps defence.

Athlone will be wondering how they didn’t take the lead on the ninth minute. Jamar Campion-Hinds crossed the pitch to take a long throw from the left touchline. His long throw managed to reach the goalmouth, bouncing through the legs of David Cawley who was eight yards from goal and falling perfectly to Dan McKenna but his volleyed shot was saved brilliantly by Tim-Oliver Hiemer at point-blank range, a save that will surely be considered for save of the season. From the initial save, there was a scramble at the post with Van Geenen attempting to poke it home, but a free out was given. A huge let-off for Finn Harps early on, but Athlone will be wondering will the rue such a big chance missed.

The match was evenly poised with no clear chances for either side other than the McKenna opportunity. On the twenty sixth minute, a long ball over the top for Finn Harps set Sean O’Donnell away, but he was tackled by two Athlone players and a free out was given. Minutes later a similar ball over the top had O’Donnell in a 1v1, but this time another free was given away and a yellow card was received for pulling Dylan Hand to the ground.

Five minutes later, Shane Forbes also picked up a yellow card for a badly timed tackle on Sean O’Donnell who was about to start a counter attack for Harps down their right wing.

On the thirty third minute, Harps captain Tony McNamee played a first time ball down the middle which looked to have set Patrick Ferry through on goal at the edge of the box, but the ball bounced off the back of Noah Van Geenen and Enda Minogue was able to clean up.

Athlone’s Campion Hinds was creating lots of opportunities down the right, and a bullet cross into the box was well cleared for a corner by Jamie Watson. The resulting corner presented a huge chance Dylan Hand, but again the Harps keeper made a great save. From the next corner, Harps broke on the counter and the ever ready Sean O’Donnell was fouled tactically by Van Geenen, who received a yellow card.

The first half ended with the score 0-0 and the home side will have Hiemer in goal to thank for keeping the visitors scoreless.

The second half started with a big chance for Finn Harps, Sean O’Donnell turned on a loose ball and hit a powerful shot from outside the box which narrowly went over the crossbar.

In the fifty-first minute, Oakley turned his man and the deflected cross was well saved by Hiemer for his third reflex save. Athlone made their first change shortly after (55) with Divine Izekor replacing Shane Forbes.

Finn Harps started the second half well and got their biggest chance for a goal in the fifty-seventh minute. Luke O’Brien crossed in a great ball and Patrick Ferry got there before the onrushing Athlone goalkeeper, but his header clipped the crossbar. A sign for Athlone that it wasn’t going to be one-way traffic.

Athlone finally broke the deadlock on seventy minutes when Izekor made a mazing run into the box, squared to Tetteh who placed the ball across the goal and into the far corner, a well taken goal to give Athlone a deserved lead.

Minutes later, Harps looked to get back into it with a long ball into the box, but Minogue rose highest to claim the ball and relieve the pressure.

On the seventy-sixed minute, Tetteh released Campion-Hinds on the right wing but his shot was initially well saved by the Finn Harps keeper, the rebound was squared by Jamar to the onrushing Dean Ebbe who had time and space but his placed shot curled over the crossbar.

With ten minutes remaining, a Finn Harps corner went over the top and Jamie Watson connected on the volley but his shot from the edge of the six was cleared off the line by Dean Ebbe. From the resulting clearance, Tetteh took the ball in his own half and went on a solo run turning past three Harps players and his cross cleared to strike the arm of Matthew Makinson but the referee deemed his arm to be in a natural position.

With time running out, Finn Harps were starting to put on the pressure and had two big chances blocked, but Athlone were still under pressure and the equalizing goal eventually came on the eighty-eight minute when a cross by substitute Gavin McAteer was flicked on by Patrick Ferry to the far corner of the net.

The game finished 1-1 and an even game over with the better of the chances falling to Athlone, but a point on the road is not the worst outcome having given their all to defeat league leaders Cork City just a couple of days earlier.

Athlone Team: Enda Minogue, Noah Van Geenen, Daniel McKenna, Dylan Hand, Dean Ebbe, Jamar Campion-Hinds, Amardo Akeem Oakley, Shane Forbes, Oisin Duffy, Brian Torre, Gideon Tetteh. Subs: Gabriel Padilla, Divine Izekor, Adbo Babatunde, Roscoe Rubinstein, Ciaran Nolan, Shaun O’Donnell.