Athlone College in All-Ireland semi-final

All-Ireland Colleges Senior Football ‘A’ semi-final  Athlone Community College v St. Patricks, Dungannon (at Clontibret on Saturday at 2.30 pm) After their heroics in winning the Leinster ‘A’ title for the first time ever in Longford two weeks ago (against Gormanston), Athlone Community College face a very tough challenge in the All-Ireland semi-final against the Ulster champions Dungannon in Clontibret, Co. Monaghan on Saturday.   Athlone staged a thrilling comeback against Gormanston in the Leinster final, coming from three points down to snatch the title with a fantastic Padraig Cunningham point in the final minute. They will have to show the same resilience against a Dungannon side who themselves came back from the dead to win the Ulster title against a fancied St. Michaels, Enniskillen on St.  Patrick’s Day in a game that was televised on the BBC.   Dungannon came from seven points down to win with almost the last kick of the game in what was also a thrilling contest and a game very similar to that between Athlone CC and Gormanston in the Leinster final which I attended. Athlone will have to be careful not to concede too many frees close to their own posts as Diarmuid Thornton is an expert free-taker and on Monday last he put on an exhibition of free-taking, slotting seven super frees in Dungannon’s epic win.   Athlone CC are likely to line out as they did in the Leinster final with Padraig Pearses’ Niall Daly in the half-back line. Daly played really well in that Leinster final win. St Brigids’ Eoin Sheehy will line out in the Athlone attack as will Darren Dolan, brother of Frankie.    The manner of Athlone’s great comeback against Gormanston augurs well for this semi-final but it should be noted that the Ulster teams have proven to be very hard to beat in this competition in recent years. In colleges football it is extremely hard to predict the outcome of big games at this stage of the competition and with several Roscommon players in their panel, hopes are high that the team can get to the All-Ireland ‘A’ final, which would be a marvellous achievement. Note: St. Jarlaths of Tuam play St. Brendans, Killarney in the other semi-final in Kilmallock on Saturday, also at 2.30 pm. Likely Athlone CC line-up: Joe McMahon (Caulry); Ben Moran (Caulry), Aonghus Hanna (Tubberclair), Ned Byrne (Tubberclair); Niall Daly (Padraig Pearses), Declan Donohoe (Caulry), Jack Byrne (Tubberclair); Alan Fitzpatrick (Caulry), Eoin Sheehy (St. Brigids); Ian Coffey (capt., Tubberclair), Adam Ward (Athlone), John Egan (Athlone); Robert Kenny (Caulry), Darren Dolan (St. Brigids), P Cunningham (Ballinasloe).