O’Keeffe fires winner as Athy finally find range

ATHY were nowhere near their best but they still had too much firepower for an Edenderry team that showed plenty of grit but not enough attacking intent.

For large portions of this tie, the Offaly champions lined out with just the willing Stuart Cullen in the opposition half and Athy struggled to break them down in the opening period.

The task would have been easier if they had brought their shooting boots with them, but Cian Reynolds and Darroch Mulhall were the chief culprits as Athy registered nine first half wides against a stiff wind.

Even without All Star Mick Foley, who is on holidays, Athy were dominant around the middle third of the field.

Yet, because they were so wasteful in attack, they trailed 1-2 to 0-2 at half-time.

“We were very rusty,” said manager, Mark Brophy. “It was our first real game as a team in that five weeks because of the U21 championships. Thankfully we got a bit of momentum going in the second half.”

Five points in ten minutes gave them a two-point lead and it was the younger brigade – seven of the starting team has been competing in the domestic U21 championships – that led the way. Kevin Feely and Tony Gibbons were magnificent in winning aerial and ground possession from start to finish but Edenderry’s Keith McGuinness goaled in the 16th minute after the visitors won their first breaking ball in midfield and that score separated them at the break.

Athy restarted superbly. Feely pointed ten seconds after the restart, Mulhall followed up a minute later, Reynolds finally slotted a free and Paddy Dunne launched two excellent scores.

The outstanding Sean Pender denied James Eaton a goal after a flowing move but when Reynolds notched his second point with ten minutes remaining, Athy looked to have done enough.

Edenderry were left with no choice but to push forward and it was Athy’s turn to retreat. Three points in four minutes, from Stephen Guing, Derek Kelly and McGuinness, had the sides level by the 55th minute.

Reynolds won possession from the kickout though and his delivery found substitute Danny O’Keeffe on the edge of the square and he launched a blistering shot to the net. That goal sets up a quarter-final with Carlow’s Old Leighlin in Newbridge next week.

Scorers for Athy: D O’Keeffe 1-0; C Reynolds (fs), P Dunne, D Mulhall 0-2 each; K Brophy, K Feely 0-1 each.

Scorers for Edenderry: K McGuinness 1-2; S Cullen, S Guing, D Kelly 0-1 each.

ATHY: J Roycroft; B Kinahan, D Hyland, J Kinahan; R Bell, E Delahunt, E Kennedy; P Dunne, K Feely; T Gibbons, C Reynolds, L McGovern; D Mulhall 0-1, K Brophy 0-1, J Eaton.

Sub: D Holligan for J Kinihan (ht); D O’Keeffe for Mulhall (50); A Kelly for Brophy (56); T Dunne for Delahunt (58).

EDENDERRY: B Quinlan; S Pender, D Meleady, D Hanlon; C Byrne, J Hurst, W Mooney; S Guing, R Dalton; M Keogh, B Malone, K McGuinness 1-1; M Young, S Cullen 0-1, D Kelly.

Subs: C Hurley for Malone (45); S Doyle for Keogh (43); D Nolan for Young (51); C McNamara for Mooney inj (60+1).

Referee: G McCormack (Dublin)

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