Quickfire Athlone undo Donegal in U17 Women’s National League opener

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Athlone Town spoiled the party for the Donegal Women’s League on their Continental Tyres Under-17 Women’s National League debut.

Donegal Women’s League 2 Athlone Town 5

Donegal Women’s League came from two goals down to get back level only for Athlone to pull away again in the second half at Dry Arch Park

Goals by Lauren Shanagher and Katelyn Keogh had Athlone 2-0 up before a long-range Catherine Grier free-kick had Donegal back in the game.

Republic of Ireland Deaf Futsal international Grier saw her effort fly over Megan Coolahan, the Athlone netiminder, to reduce the arrears.

It took a good save from Coolahan to prevent Donegal from drawing level when she beat away a Suzanne White effort but, 12 minutes into the second half, Donegal got back on an even keel when Megan Masterson converted in the area after Grier’s free caused panic.

However, Athlone – managed by Athlone’s former League of Ireland player and manager Michael O’Connor – struck three times in a deadly seven-minute spell to take the win.

Scanlon saved from a Chlodagh Dillon free, but Kayleigh Shine took control to put Athlone ahead.

Donegal had hardly time to recover when Chloe Darby sneaked in for a fourth and, just two minutes later, the final nail was hammered by Keogh’s second of the afternoon. 

Athlone took the lead after just seven minutes when Shanagher stroked home from close range. Kate Murphy’s ball into the danger zone wasn’t dealt with and Shanagher pounced on the hesitancy to steer home.

Eight minutes before half-time, the Midlanders doubled the lead when Keogh broke away to flick past Neve Scanlon, the Donegal goalkeeper, for the second and it was a tall order for Donegal to get back into the tie.

In between times, the excellent Dillon had a go from distance, but was ever so slightly off target, while Scanlon saved well from Keogh.

Athlone’s Kate Murphy header over the top from a corner while Scanlon denied Shine.

Scanlon was almost caught out by Chloe Darby before Grier struck to give Donegal hope.

Athlone, though, seized the day with those three quick-fire second-half goals.

Donegal Women’s League: Neve Scanlon, Kelly Ann Buchanan (Etain Haicead), Michelle McDevitt (Emma Gormley), Catherine Grier, Ciara McGarvey, Aisling Irwin, Sorcha Reddy, Suzanne White, Megan Masterson (Alannah Kee), Helena McGee, Bronagh Gallagher (Aoife Kelly).

Athlone Town: Megan Coolahan, Holly Carrig, Aoife O’Neill (Rebecca Collins), Aoife Kenny, Angelina Derosa, Chlodagh Dillon, Lauren Shanagher, Chloe Darby, Katelyn Keogh, Kayleigh Shine, Kate Murphy. 

Referee: Liam McLaughlin.

Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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