Garrycastle 1-10 Athy 1-6
Garrycastle booked a place in the Leinster senior club final at the end of a fascinating and hard-fought encounter played in heavy underground conditions today.
Gary Dolan’s 56th-minute goal sealed the verdict.
The Westmeath champions just too much know-how when it came to football at club semi-final level at St Conleth’s Park today.
Athy continued to pile forward though and Garrycastle goalkeeper, Cathal Mullin made a fantastic double-save from Liam McGovern.
The netminder was outstanding throughout, pulling off two one-on-one stops prior to that from Kevin Feely and James Eaton, although Feely might have been better employed fisting over with his first half effort from a difficult angle.
It was that knowledge of what to do in key situations that separated the teams in the end.
Athy probably had the better of the play in the opening half but Garrycastle remained composed and would have been happy going in at the interval level on 0-4 apiece.
Almost 10 minutes had elapsed before Liam McGovern got at the end of a fine three-man move to open the scoring for Athy.
Dessie Dolan manufactured a free to equalise and they were level two more times before the veteran attacker landed his third free to put his side ahead for the first time.
Eaton took possession from a spectacular 40m pass by Ken Brophy inside 60 seconds to restore parity and it was all to play for still at half time.
Seanie O’Donohue and David O’Shaughnessy exerted an increased influence on proceedings around the middle after the restart, with the policy of breaking ball paying huge dividends against the high-fielding Athy pairing of Kevin Feely and Paddy Dunne.
By the 40th minute, Garrycastle had raced into a three-point lead courtesy of Dessie Dolan (free), Tom McHugh, O’Donohue and Patrick Mulivihill, and were good value for that advantage.
Athy introduced Danny O’Keeffe at this stage and the 18-year-old made an immediate impact.
Winning possession out on the right, the youngster side-stepped one defender before leaving another in his wake with a show of blinding pace.
His shot hit the upright but rebounded kindly to Eaton, who made no mistake from close range to bring the sides level again with 17 minutes left.
James Dolan and Eaton (free) exchanged scores before Garrycastle substitute Alan Daly pointed after Gary Dolan had broken a long ball from his increasingly-influential brother Dessie.
O’Keeffe spurned a good opportunity to level before Gary Dolan pounced on a rebound after Dessie’s kick for a point came back off the upright to blast to the Athy net and seal the deal.
Garrycastle: D Dolan 0-4(fs); G Dolan 1-0; J Dolan 0-2; S O’Donohue, P Mulvihill, T McHugh, A Daly 0-1 each
Athy: J Eaton 1-3(0-2fs); L McGovern, P Dunne, D Mulhall (f) 0-1 each
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford)