After missing a penalty and trailing by four points at halftime, Aughawillan turned in one of the most staggering displays of point scoring, raising the white flag an incredible 12 times, to shock Allen Gaels in the second round of the Connacht Gold Senior Championship in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.
More staggering was the complete change in Aughawillan’s entire fortunes – they may have missed a penalty but Allen Gaels were completely dominating the first half and looked a much better bet for victory than an Aughawillan who were struggling to put any sort of moves together in the first half.
But whatever manager Mickey Quinn said at halftime, Aughawillan were transformed and an incredible 12 second half points saw them register their first win of the group stages and leave them in with a superb chance of making the top two outright for the knock-out stages of the championship.
Allen Gaels must have been shell-shocked by Aughawillan’s transformation and can point to two great goal chances that went abegging but they can have few complaints as their young team wilted under the fierce pressure exerted by the Aughawillan.
Central to Aughawillan’s transformation was the displays of Morgan Quinn and Gary Plunkett who made great use of the space afforded them in the attack and showed great accuracy while Christy Prior, Stephen Gilheaney, Noel Plunkett, Ryan Creamer, Sean & Michael Quinn made big contributions to the win.
For Allen Gaels, Colm McGovern was rock solid and the Drumshanbo men missed his experience when he was taken off while James Flynn, Alan Wynne, Nicholas Moore and Michael McManus were among the best performers for the Gaels.
Allen Gaels Nicholas Moore opened the scoring on seven minutes, a nice point from the corner but persistent Aughawillan play resulted in Gary Plunkett scoring. However, the Drumshanbo men took a major step to glory when James Flynn showed searing speed to make a break, round a defender and drill a low shot to the net on 13 minutes.
Declan Gilhooley missed a free but made amends on 17 minutes from a placed ball while Brian Mulvey added a free. Aughawillan had the ball in the net on 22 minutes but Noel Plunkett’s goal was ruled out as referee Eamon O’Grady had blown for a foul.
Unfortunately for Aughawillan, Morgan Quinn’s penalty was easily saved by Kevin Nolan with a follow up also being blocked. Gary Plunkett did put over a free as both sides registered some poor wides before the break, leaving Allen Gaels 1-3 to 0-2 in front at the break.
The second half was a complete and utter transformation, Morgan Quinn and Ciaran Gilheaney, firing over while Gary Plunkett hit two, one from a free, to level the scores within five minutes.
Just as they did against Drumreilly a week previously, Allen Gaels reacted well with Emmet Burke fisting over and James Flynn scoring a lovely point on seven minutes while Nicholas Moore saw a shot come off the woodwork.
But there was no stopping Aughawillan and five unanswered points before Declan Gilhooley got the Gaels next score. Morgan Quinn (free), Ryan Creamer, Gary Plunkett from two frees and Morgan Quinn again saw the Willies storm into a three point lead with 11 minutes to go.
Brian Mulvey saw a shot hit the crossbar but Aughawillan were not to be denied and two great Plunkett points from play and an inspirational score from Niall Beirne put them five clear with five minutes to go.
Allen Gaels, to their credit, refused to give up and added two Brian Mulvey points narrowed the gap back to a goal but there was no further goal chance for the Gaels as Aughawillan celebrated a deserved win.
Colin Maguire, Gary Deane, Kevin McTague, Declan McGovern, Niall Beirne (0-1), Sean Quinn, Stephen Gilheaney, Michael Quinn, Christy Prior, Paul Prior, Gary Plunkett (0-8), Ciaran Gilheaney (0-1), Morgan Quinn (0-3), Noel Plunkett, Ryan Creamer (0-1).
Kevin Nolan, Thomas Mulvey, Alan Wynne, Mark Gunning, Ciaran Mattynnsenns, Colm McGovern, Martin Raftery, Martin Beirne, Michael McManus, James Flynn (1-1), Declan Gilhooley (0-2), Sean Mulvey, Nicholas Moore (0-1), Derek McGourty, Brian Mulvey (0-3). Subs: Emmet Burke (0-1) for McGourty (20 mins), Adrian Sorohan for McGovern (36 mins), Daniel Egan for S. Mulvey (48 mins).
Referee: Eamon O’Grady.