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Bryan Keane/INPHO Shelbourne manager Ian Morris (file photo)
# Wrap
Athlone draw at Shelbourne to keep promotion hopes alive
Stephen Meaney’s header late in the first half earned the visitors a deserved point.

Shelbourne 1

Athlone Town 1

ATHLONE TOWN KEPT their hopes of sneaking into the final promotion play-off spot alive as they held champions Shelbourne to a 1-1 draw at Tolka Park.

Stephen Meaney’s header late in the first half earned the visitors a deserved point after Brian McManus had put Shels in front midway through the half.

In what very much felt like the performance following the week before, there was little of the buzz and excitement that surrounded their title-winning display over Treaty United here last week.

Manager Ian Morris gave run-outs to some of his fringe players, including strikers Yoyo Mahdy and Stanley Obinna Anaebonam, as he looked at his options for next season.

For Athlone manager Paul Doolin, it was a chance to catch the club with whom he spent two spells as a player on the hop and make up some of the six points between them and Bray.

The midlands side took time to get going in blustery conditions and Shels found most of the openings in a low-tempo opening period.

Micheál Schlingermann gave an indication of why he was voted goalkeeper of the year in 2015 as he got down superbly to prevent Mahdy’s low shoot creeping in at the post.

Ally Gilchrist missed a glorious chance shortly afterwards as he glanced wide from a corner after doing brilliantly to wriggle free from his marker.

It was another corner from which the opener arrived minutes later, however, as Kevin O’Connor’s delivery bounced in the six-yard box and McManus bundled the ball home.

Trailing by a goal, Athlone began to create themselves and Meaney went close as he met a Kurtis Byrne corner with his head, but he couldn’t keep his effort down.

He made no mistake 10 minutes before half-time as ex-Shels man Glen McAuley showed great footwork on the right before crossing left-footed into the box.

Meaney managed to free himself from the attention of Kouogun and sent a looping header past Brendan Clarke and into the top corner.

Shels almost instantly regained the lead as Schlingermann pulled off a superb double save, first parrying clear Georgie Poynton’s effort and then saving Shane Farrell’s follow-up.

Teenager Gavin Molloy impressed in his cameo for Shels from the bench, and he saw his shot saved by Schlingermann as the game petered out.

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Meaney was desperately unlucky not to produce a winner in injury time as he controlled brilliantly before dropping a shoulder and curling a shot inches wide.

The final chance fell to McAuley in the dying seconds as he found room on the edge of the box, but he hesitated and shot straight at Clarke as the points were shared.

In tonight’s other First Division fixtures, Cork City cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win over Wexford, while Cobh Ramblers were 2-1 winners at Cabinteely.

Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; Michael Barker, Maxi Kouogun, Ally Gilchrist, Kevin O’Connor; Georgie Poynton (Alex Nolan 84), Brian McManus, Yassine En-Neyah (Michael O’Connor 84); Shane Farrell (Gavin Molloy 76), Stanley Anaebonam (Dayle Rooney 62), Yoyo Mahdy (Ryan Brennan 76).

Athlone Town: Micheál Schlingermann; Aidan Friel, Kilian Cantwell, Philip Hand, Derek Daly (David Brookes 84); Tunmise Sobowale, Scott Delaney (Brandon McCann), Kurtis Byrne (Dan McKenna 84); Glen McAuley, James Doona (Lee Duffy 76), Stephen Meaney. 

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey chat all things Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster — and welcome back the AIL — on The42 Rugby Weekly

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