The cream of Kildare’s clubs can already attest to that, as can Offaly champions Edenderry and now so do Carlow title-holders Old Leighlin.
With nine members of their starting side still involved in Athy’s domestic U21 campaign, along with two more used subs, Mark Brophy’s charges are true novices but you wouldn’t know it as they recovered from a sluggish start to pull clear of Old Leighlin.
“A 10-point victory in any competition is very good, especially at this level so we’re pleased,” said Brophy. “The lads are picking a bit up every game. We’ll have to pick up a lot more the next day but the lads are looking forward to it and we’ll be back in two weeks. We’ll give it a go.”
The Carlow champions were reduced to 14 men a minute from the end when David Dowling received his second yellow card, both after trips on Athy players. They were well beaten by that stage though, having offered very little attacking threat apart from Seamus Kinsella, whose 56th minute goal was Old Leighlin’s only second-half score. Athy responded with a goal of their own inside 60 seconds, when James Eaton slammed to the net from the penalty spot.
They struggled to impose themselves in the opening half as referee Joe Curley’s overt fussiness prevented flow. It was no coincidence that the south Kildare outfit had much more fluidity about their play after the resumption.
They did show their naivety in defence in the first half though, when James Roycroft was forced into three outstanding saves.
“We were very open, especially in the first half,” Brophy conceded. “James has been fantastic for us all year. It’s his first year at senior level and he hasn’t really put a foot wrong.”
But with Kevin Feely and Tony Gibbons outstanding in the air and on the turf around the middle third, Athy always held the upper hand.
Cian Reynolds, Liam McGovern and Ross Bell were amongst those to capitalise with some outstanding points and Athy will advance to a semi-final against Westmeath kingpins Garrycastle in Newbridge on December 4.
Scorers for Athy: J Eaton 1-1 (1-0p), L McGovern, C Reynolds (1f) 0-3 each, R Bell 0-2, K Feely, T Gibbons, D Mulhall, D O’Keeffe 0-1 each.
Scorers for Old Leighlin: S Kinsella 1-2 (1f), C Coughlan 0-1(f).
ATHY: J Roycroft; D Hyland, B Kinahan, J Kinahan; R Bell, E Delahunt, E Kennedy; P Dunne, K Feely; T Gibbons, C Reynolds, L McGovern; D Mulhall, K Brophy, J Eaton. Subs: D O’Keeffe for Brophy (41), D Holligan for B Kinihan (inj. 45), C O’Brien for Delahunt (54), H Mahon for Bell (60), T Dunne for Kennedy (60).
OLD LEIGHLIN: J Clarke; G Hickey, Michael Meaney, E Fitzgerald; D Dowling, J Hayden, R Burke; P Hickey, M Brennan; D Kelly, C Coughlan, D Bambrick; Michael Meaney, H Gahan, S Kinsella. Subs: A Nolan for Brennan (inj. 27), C Brennan for Fitzgerald (50), S Kinsella for Michael Meaney (52).
Referee: J Curley (Meath).