The great rivalry that these two teams have built up at minor grade over the last couple of years shows no sign of abating but it was county champions Celbridge who were left celebrating at the end this time as they captured the MFL Division 1 title last Saturday in Newbridge, writes Ger McNally.
The two clubs have shared the last four county titles, with Celbridge finally getting to lift the trophy last October and on the evidence of this game they must be favourites to do so again this year.
Despite the presence of county minor midfielder Paschal Connell for Athy, it was Celbridge who got the better of things in that pivotal area and that was the platform for the likes of Gerry Keegan and Paddy Brophy to show what they could do in attack.
Athy had started well with two Mick Kelly points inside the first six minutes but Celbridge hit back with three in a row.
The impish Mick Kelly was causing Celbridge plenty of problems in the early stages and he got in for a goal after ten minutes after he had brilliantly flicked the ball up off the ground to create the opportunity for himself.
David Mackey responded with a goal of his own at the far end within two minutes, after Athy ‘keeper Mark Prior had initially saved from Thomas Doolin, and that moment seemed to take the wind out of Athy’s sails.
Mick Kelly quickly levelled matters for the second time in the game but points from Doolin and Brophy put Celbridge in charge. Crucially, they managed a second goal just before the half time break.
County minor skipper Brophy fed the ball inside to Ronan Byrne. The corner forward still had a lot of work to do but brilliantly fired the ball over the head of Athy goalkeeper Mark Prior from a tight angle on the left.
That left the half time score at 2-5 to 1-4 and Athy would go on to add just two Niall Kelly frees to their total during the second half.
Celbridge scored four points themselves after the break and could have a third goal in the 43rd minute but Killian Mulhall was alert enough to stop Byrne from scoring into an empty net after Kevin Murphy had hit the post.
There was nothing that Mulhall or anybody else could do in the final minute when Shane O’Flynn sent Keegan in on goal and he beat Prior with the last kick of the game to seal yet another underage title for a team with plenty of prospects of adding to that trophy haul later in the summer.
Colin Heaney; Brian Flynn, Rory Feehan, Eoghan Konstantin, Emmet Conaty, Kevin Murphy 0-1, Brian Nolan; Jason Doran 0-2, David Mackey 1-0; Shane O’Flynn, Patrick Brophy 0-3 (1f), Sean O’Regan, Gerry Keegan 1-1, Thomas Doolin 0-2, Ronan Byrne 1-0. Subs: Anthony Byrne for Feehan, 17; Kevin Flynn for O’Regan, 48.
Mark Prior; Tadhg Foley, Killian Mulhall, Mark Hyland, Shane McGovern, David Hyland 0-1, Dylan Leigh; Paschal Connell, Niall Kelly 0-2fs; David O’Toole, Mick Kelly 1-3 (2fs), Stephen May, Dominic Fennelly, Paddy Keogh, Nathan Owens. Sub: Anthony O’Keefe for May, 48.