Ellie Goulding

Love Me Like You Do

Eye Catching First-Half Display Sends Athlone Second In First Division

Three goals in the opening 45 minutes were enough to see off Galway United.

A scintillating thirteen minute spell of counter attacking football saw Athlone Town dispatch promotion chasing Galway United 3-1 at Lissywoolen on Friday night. 

Gary Boylan's own goal, quickly followed by a brace from new signing Stephen Meaney leaves The Midlanders second in the SSE Airtricity First Division table and with buoyed spirits ahead of two difficult away days in the coming weeks. 

Galway started the better of the two, forcing two early corners but Athlone's decision to adopt a 4-2-3-1 would soon pay dividends. 

Twelve minutes in and Stephen Walsh, playing at left centre back in Galway's back three, proved hesitant under a high ball allowing the energetic Adam Wixted to nip in. The signing from Drogheda released an overlapping Aidan Friel, who drove a vicious chest high cross into the near post. With no time to react, it was wrong place wrong time for Boylan and the ball cannoned off him, past a helpless Conor Kearns between the sticks. 

Confidence lifted and Athlone Town now looked the more comfortable.

Wixted and opposite winger James Doona were finding all kinds of space between the lines of the Tribesmen's 3-5-2 and six minutes later the home side again capitalised on the naivety of Galway in defence. 

This time a scramble in the Athlone 18-yard box led to an agricultural punt forward, which broke to Doona. His response was to send a first time half-volley over the top of the back three. Suddenly in two movements Wixted was in a foot race with the last defender. Spotting Stephen Meaney advancing centrally, the 26 year-old sent a powerful header into his strike partner's path. Meaney cooly allowed the ball to bounce towards the penalty spot before unleashing a right foot volley into the net. 

A third for Athlone and a third of the short season for Meaney came less than ten minutes later, following the best passage of the game. 

Kurtis Byrne, thriving in the number 10 role dropped deep to link with Dan McKenna. McKenna showed his passing range by spraying a 30 yard arrow to the feet of Doona on the left hand side. The ex-St. Pats man drove to the byline and sent a tantalising ball rolling across the six yard box. Two Galway defenders were drawn to a decoy run by Wixted, allowing Meaney to saunter in and tap home at the back post. 

There was no resurrection from the Tribesmen on Easter weekend despite three substitutions by half-time and a change in shape to match their opponents 4-2-3-1 in the second half. They managed to pull one back through Wilson Waweru midway through but in truth it was a very underwhelming display from John Caulfield's men. 

In contrast Athlone under Adrian Carberry looked to be thriving. There's a bite and determination about their play that hasn't been evident in the last 18 months. The four attacking players combined to aplomb and looked a threat at every opportunity but greater tests lie ahead in the coming weeks.

A trip to Cork is followed with another away day to Bray before they welcome table-topping Cabinteely to Lisswoolen at the end of the month. 

The SSE Airtricity First Division is proving to be the hotly contested league that was promised before a ball was kicked but it appears at a very early point as if The Midlanders potential to be challenging at the business end of the season is no pipe dream. 

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