Two goals in the final 15 minutes ultimately ended Arlington’s hopes in the Paddy Cotter Cup Final in Leah Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon.
Up to that point, the Laois side were right in the game but once Sean Breannan added his second goal 15 minutes from time, they were facing up an uphill task.
Willow Park’s third goal from Robbie Shine from the penalty spot ten minutes from time wrapped up the win.
For Arlington it was a case of what might have been as two of the goals were scored on the rebound. They had their chances throughout the game but on more than one occasion they were unlucky to see the ball either strike or go just wide of the post.
They defended very well throughout and had plenty of possession however they were just unable to find the goal that would have put them right back in the hunt entering the final minutes.
Both sides took time to settle into the game before Willow Park thought they had taken the lead when Mark McConnell found the net but the goal was ruled out for offside.
The Athlone side did break the deadlock on the half hour mark when Sean Brennan reacted quickest to slot the ball to the back of the net after Arlington goalkeeper Brian McCauley had initially made a good save. Before half-time Willow Park almost made it two but Robbie Shine put a free-kick just wide.
Willow Park started the second-half well and it took some excellent last ditch interventions from Arlington centre-backs Brian O’Mahony and Alan Kelly to keep the score at 1-0.
Seven minutes into the half Arlington opened up the Willow Park defence on the break. Joe Gorman broke from his own half and played a perfect one-two with Barry Kenny that put him in behind the Willow Park defence. He bore down on goal and guided his shot past Ian Bolger but unfortunately for Gorman and Arlington it also went inches wide of the post.
On the hour mark Arlington again came close to equalising when Brian O’Mahony unleashed a long range volley however it took a kind deflection and went straight into the hands of Ian Bolger in the Willow Park goal.
Willow Park continued to threaten at the other end without getting a clear shot at goal but 15 minutes from time they eventually added a second goal that tipped the balance of the game in their favour.
A corner was dangerously swung in from the right hand side and goalkeeper Brian McAuley did well to palm it away from underneath his crossbar. He was quickly back to his feet to save from Sean Brennan however the ball went back to the Willow Park man who somehow, through a forest of legs, managed to guide his follow up shot to the back of the net.
The game was eventually settled ten minutes from time when Brian Fogarty was taken down in the Arlington box and Robbie Shine stepped up to convert the penalty to put Willow Park 3-0 ahead.
To their credit Arlington never threw in the towel but their afternoon was summed up in the last minute when Barry Kenny hit the outside of the post after he powered through the Willow Park defence.
Willow Park: Ian Bolger; Jimmy Mullaly, Peter Sherlock, Fergal Murray, Ronan Frawley, Robbie Shine, Glenn Byrne, Mark McConnell, Sean Brennan, Benny Magennis, Kevin Murray. Subs:Aidan Hyland for Glenn Byrne (76mins), Colm Hyland for Sean Brennan (76mins), Brian Fogarty for Kevin Murray (76mins), Brian Caudwell for Benny Magennis (80mins), Cathal Calligan for Robbie Shine (80mins)
Arlington FC: Brian McAuley; Joe Tully, Shane McAuley, Brian O’Mahony, Alan Kelly, Daryl Foy, Oleg Shiskarev, Eoin Gleeson, Barry Kenny, Joe Gorman, Jason Halpin. Subs: James O’Driscoll for Eoin Gleeson (78mins), Paul Hyland for Jason Halpin (80mins)
Referee: E O’Riordan