Treaty United have reached the Airtricty League First Division play-offs in the club’s maiden season in senior men’s football following a 1-1 draw with Athlone Town at the Markets Field on Friday night. A point was enough to secure their place as they are six points clear of last night’s opponents and nearest challengers but Athlone have just one game remaining.
James Doona opened the scoring for the visitors but a penalty fifteen minutes from time from striker Kieran Hanlon sent the home crowd and players into raptures as they knew the ramifications of the goal.
It was an eventful opening at the Garryowen venue with the away side showing the purpose required to pick up the three points that was necessary to keep their play-off dream alive. The biggest threat for Paul Doolin’s side in the opening half was James Doona who gave Charlie Fleming a tough time and cut inside from the left flank to test Ryan early on but the Cappamore native was equal to the task.
Treaty’s Hanlon has been struggling with injury of late but he looked motivated from the off in his battle with Cantwell and Dylan Hand and his header from Fleming’s free-kick was saved by Michael Schlingermann. Five minutes later, Joel Coustrain pounced on a poor clearance in the box but his weak right-footed effort was easily saved by the former Galway netminder.
Although there were numerous warnings, Doona opened the scoring for the away side as he skipped inside two challenges from the left and smashed the ball into the corner of the net and beyond Ryan.
Marc Ludden was attempting to get forward in support of the Treaty attack and the experienced left-back’s cross was met by Hanlon but he was stretching behind him and the ball sailed into the hands of Sclingermann. Moments before the half time whistle, both Doona and Athlone captain Kurtis Byrne had chances to score with the latter shooting over and the former testing Ryan.
Tommy Barrett would have been eager to win in front of an enthusiastic crowd and his team emerged from the dressing room in motivated form with Hanlon using his strength to turn Hand and force a good save from the goalkeeper. Ludden went on one of his rampaging runs and crossed for Callum McNamara but the midfielder saw his header palmed away by Sclingermann.
As we entered the final quarter of the game, a fairly innocuous shot from substitute Jack Lynch was palmed back into the danger area by Schlingermann and Hanlon was quickest to react to gain possession before he was bundled over by the netminder and referee David Dunne showed no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot.
Hanlon grabbed the ball immediately and smashed the ball into the net to put one foot into the play-offs. Athlone pushed for a much needed winner and introduced Adam Wixted who teed up Kurtis Byrne to blaze over the bar in what proved to the Midlanders last effort on goal.
The final whistle was met with huge cheers as the players and fans greeted one another following confirmation that the team which was only formed in February, had made it to the play-offs alongside Galway, UCD and Bray. Treaty still have two games left in the regulation season as they travel to Dublin twice to take on UCD and Cabinteely before the extended season begins.
Treaty United: Tadgh Ryan, Charlie Fleming, Sean Guerins, Anto O’Donnell, Marc Ludden, Callum McNnamara (Jack Lynch 61), Mark Walsh, Steven Christopher, Matt Keane (Dean George 61), Joel Coustrain (Willie Armshaw 40), Kieran Hanlon (Bryan Murphy 90+2)
Athlone Town: Michael Sclingermann, Aidan Friel, Killian Cantwell, Dylan Hand, Derek Daly, Timmy Sobowale, Brandon McCann (Dan McKenna 68), Kurtis Byrne, James Doona, Glen McAuley, Stephen Meaney (Adam Wixted 79)