Paul Corcoran reports from Lissywoolen
It was an entertaining end to the season for both Athlone Town and Galway United as the sides played out a 2-2 draw in Lissywoolen on Saturday night.
Conor Melody took the lead for the visitors in the first half, but it was the second half which saw the drama.
Kealan Dillon struck twice to put the home side in the lead but an injury time goal from Galway’s Killian Brouder meant the visitors rescued a share of the spoils.
There was some ghastly football being played by both side in the opening ten minutes, but it was Athlone who initially began to settle down and set the pace.
The Tribesmen were caught napping in the 12th minute when a long ball over the top sent Nika Kalandarishvili through on goal.
The Galway defence were hot in pursuit but goalkeeper Cian Mulryan, on his debut, did extremely well to make the save with his feet to keep the sides level.
Two minutes later Mulryan was called into action once again when Kalandarishvili broke away in the box.
Killian Brouder dispossessed the forward with a great tackle but the ball felt to Adam Lennon, the midfielder struck the ball at point blank range, but Galway’s goalkeeper stood strong to deny the home side again.
Athlone were very much on top, but the away side managed to take the lead after a poor mistake from goalkeeper Aaron Myles.
The goalkeeper was attempting to make a clearance in the 16th minute but the ball struck Conor Melody, the midfielder rounded Myles and tapped the ball over the line for the lead.
Both sides settled down for the rest of the half until in injury time when an Aaron Brilly cross could have meant catastrophe for Galway.
Jack Lynch showed steely determination to ensure he got back to make the last ditch defensive header to clear the ball.
Almost out of nowhere Athlone Town equalised ten minutes into the second half. Kealan Dillon took aim from outside the box and rasped a shot goalward. Mulryan made the save initially but the ball stayed alive and rolled into the back of the net.
Aaron Myles made a great save in the 66th minute to deny United a breakaway goal. Conor Melody stormed down the right flank as the defence tried to recover.
The midfielder sprayed a dangerous ball low across the box. Barry was first to the ball with a snapshot right in front of goal, but the goalkeeper made the save.
Dillon nearly won this in the 80th minute for Athlone Town. The Tribesmen were failing to make a proper clearance at the back when the midfielder got a hold of the ball outside the box, he took aim, but the ball rattled off the post to deny him a brace.
The midfielder must have thought he had gotten that winner when he did grab his brace in the 89th minute. An excellent individual effort from Dillon saw him take on a mazy run into the box before slotting the ball past Mulryan to take the lead.
That lead only lasted two minutes after a great long ball from Stephen Walsh. The defender played a long ball to his centre back partner Killian Brouder in the box, he got his boot through it to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
Athlone Town: Aaron Myles; Aaron Brilly, Ciaran Grogan, Rhys Gorman, Dean O’Shea (Evan Pierce, 79); Adam Lennon (Evan Pierce, 76), Shane Dunne, Kealan Dillon, Darren Meenan, Jamie Hamilton; Nika Kalandarishvili.
Subs not used: Garmondeh Ta-Uway, Nashir Ishola, Rihad Simon, John Morgan, Sean Fitzpatrick, Ollie Hamzat.
Galway United: Cian Mulryan; Killian Brouder, Marc Ludden. Jack Lynch (Christopher Horgan, 54), Stephen Walsh; Stephen Christopher (Vinny Faherty, 67), Joe Collins, Joshua Keane Quinlivan (Donal Higgins, 58), Maurice Nugent; Conor Barry, Conor Melody.
Subs not used: Kevin Horgan, Colin Kelly, Cian Murphy, Caoilfhionn O’Dea.
Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan.
Attendance: 250 (Estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Stephen Walsh (Galway United).