Andrew Dempsey reports from Stradbrook Road
Athlone Town claimed a big win in their search for a coveted place in the First Division playoffs thanks to a 1-0 win over Cabinteely at Stradbrook.
Derek Daly’s first-half strike was the difference between the sides as the Co. Westmeath outfit sealed just their first win over Cabinteely since August 2016, and just their second ever away to the Green and White's.
The result leaves them just a point behind Bray Wanderers in the playoff hunt, while Cabo stay four behind their local rivals.
After a promising start to the season that saw them remain unbeaten until early May, Athlone struggled in recent weeks, winning once in their last nine.
Adrian Carberry’s side have looked to rectify this run of results with a couple of new acquisitions in the form of Garry Comerford and Ray O’Sullivan, signing from the junior ranks.
Cabo on the other hand have impressed this season despite their budgetary constraints, but, they lost their previous two games prior to the visit of Athlone to Stradbrook.
Pat Devlin has, however, made moves in the transfer window to bolster his squad, with Niall Quinn’s son Michael – also a former Dublin under-21 GAA footballer – joining his ranks as Cabinteely look to catapult themselves into the heart of the playoff picture yet again.
It was Athlone, however, who started the game the better of the two sides, with Adam Wixted going close early on with a glancing header that just went wide.
Late replacement Stephen Meaney then went close himself after getting on the end of a great Daly cross into the box, but his effort went over the bar.
The former Bray winger then went close with a sumptuous delivery into the box, but he was denied, unknowingly, by Cabo’s Harry Halwax who denied him with a stray leg.
The Derby County loanee was forced into action yet again moments later, denying Meaney with a low block.
Devlin’s charges grew into the game, albeit slowly, and their first shot on goal came through Eoin Massey, but it was blocked by an Athlone Town defender.
Cabo’s luck would shortly run out as Adrian Carberry’s side took a deserved lead after 19 minutes through Daly.
Daly linked up with Meaney on the edge of the penalty area before blasting the ball home past Halwax at his near-post.
That concession jolted Cabo into life, and they went close on three occasions before the half-time break.
Luke McWilliams first headed over the bar from a Zak O’Neill cross, while Massey then shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
And their best chance of the half came moments before the break, but joint-top scorer Vilius Labutis saw his header crash off the bar after a good ball into danger from McWilliams.
In a second-half that produced little in terms of quality, it was Cabinteely who enjoyed most of the play, but they could not break down a stubborn Town defence.
The best in terms of an opening that they could create came through set-pieces and long throw-ins into the box.
Although, they could not sufficiently trouble Michael Schlingermann in the Athlone goal.
The best they mustered up was a shot on target from Jack Hudson, but he was denied as his tame effort was well-held by the Athlone netminder.
That was before Kurtis Byrne almost doubled Athlone’s lead, but he was denied by Halwax, not that it mattered as they claimed a big three points in their quest to reach the playoff positions.
Cabinteely: Harry Halwax; Luke McWilliams, Eoin Massey (Conor Knight 79), Kevin Knight, Daniel Blackbyrne (c); Eoin McPhillips (Ben Feeney 79), Sean McDonald (Luke Clucas 72), Vilius Labutis, Jack Hudson; Marty Waters (Jem Campion 72), Zak O'Neill (Keith Dalton 72).
Subs not used: Michael Quinn, Jack O'Reilly, Mitchell Byrne, Alex Aspil.
Booked: Jack Hudson (67).
Athlone Town: Mícheál Schlingermann; Daniel McKenna, Dylan Hand, Aidan Friel, Garry Comerford, David Brookes; Adam Wixted, Jamie Hollywood, Derek Daly; Stephen Meaney (Brandon McCann 85), Kurtis Byrne (c).
Subs not used: Tumelo Tlou, Kayleum Rice, Ray O'Sullivan, Shane Nealon, Oisin Duffy, Lee Duffy, Donal Curtin.
Booked: Dylan Hand (58), Stephen Meaney (67), David Brookes (81).
Referee: Kevin O'Sullivan
Attendance: 150 (Estimate).
extratime.com Player of the Match: Derek Daly (Athlone Town).