After a dream start that saw them hit the front after less than two minutes, Arlington let the lead slip against a Mullingar Athletic side that completed the first part of a possible treble-winning season with a hard fought Paddy Cotter Cup final win in Edenderry on Saturday evening.
Paddy Cotter Cup Final
Mullingar Athletic 2
After disposing of the Port men with relative ease on their way to this weekend’s Counties Cup final, Mullingar would have fancied their chances of claiming the first Senior trophy of the league but Arlington got off to a perfect start when Barry Kenny stabbed home from close range to stun the fancied Westmeath side. Daryl Foy’s cross was spilled by Athletic keeper Stephen Watters who felt he was unfairly impeded but referee Tony Ward correctly waved it away and Kenny was free to send the rebound into the back of the net.
Athletic couldn’t find their usual passing rhythm, hindered both by the bobbly Edenderry pitch and Arlington’s determined work rate, but they did fashion a couple of half chances in the first half. Michael Ladian had the bulk of these but he found it difficult to really trouble Arlington keeper Brian McAuley. Joe Gorman was enjoying a fine game in midfield for the Laois men but just when it looked like they would hold onto their lead until the half-time interval Fadian finally took his chance.
There seemed little danger with Arlington in possession in their own half but a misplaced James Gallagher ball infield was pounced on by Fadian and this time he made no mistake as he calmly placed his effort past McAuley. Oleg Shiskarev wasn’t having the impact that he can on games and he spurned a decent chance just before the half time whistle as Arlington looked to break and the sides went in all square at the interval.
Athletic moved star man Kevin Keegan in off the wing for the second half where he could impose himself over a dominant Arlington central midfield and the plan worked for Athletic as they looked a lot more composed in the second period. Darragh Kiernan could have put his side ahead as he cut inside Colin Doyle but chose to take a dive instead of continuing his run. He was immediately shown a yellow card and Arlington used that as a springboard to get back into the game.
They created a few half chances but as time ticked by the game became increasingly scrappy. It always looked like the next goal would prove to be the winner and so it was. Unfortunately for Arlington it came at the wrong end as sub Michael Loran fired home with ten minutes left and there was no way back for Richie Confrey’s men. A quick break down the left-wing left Enda Morris in space to get to the bye-line and get a low ball across goal. Colin Doyle’s attempted clearance wasn’t enough and Loran took control and kept his cool to fire past the last-ditch efforts of a number of desperate Arlington defenders.
They were given a glimmer of hope when Darragh Kiernan saw red two minutes later for a second bookable offence but despite their best efforts Arlington just couldn’t muster a scoring chance. Mullingar’s defence held firm and they completed the first leg of their three-pronged hunt for league and cup glory.
Arlington: Brian McAuley, Joe Tully, Lorcan Carey, Alan Kelly, Colin Doyle, Dave Thorpe, Oleg Shiskarev (Mark Donnelly ’62), Joe Gorman, Barry Kenny, Daryl Foy, James Gallagher (Barry Mitchell ’86).
Mullingar Town: Stephen Watters, David Masterson, Adrian O’Reilly, Mark Syron, Kevin Dunlevy, Stephen Harney, Kevin Keegan, Enda Matthews (Michael Loran ’45), Enda Morris, Michael Fadian, Darragh Kiernan.
Referee: Tony Ward