Athy complete memorable first season

Athy hockey club sealed the Division 7 title in their maiden year with two games to spare as their 2-0 win away to Kilkenny last Saturday moved them out of the reach of UCD.

Second half goals from Neville Kavanagh and Warren O’Donnell were enough to seal the points against a spirited and youthful Kilkenny side, backboned by members of the college’s Leinster School’s Trophy winning side.

Athy was founded at the start of this season as a section of the local rugby club, Athy RFC. The majority of the club had previously played hockey in school and, indeed, for other clubs in the region, A regular social Friday night game with the club’s already existing ladies section provided the impetus for the foundation of the men’s side.

When one night, 17 males turned up for the game the thoughts of a men’s side turned into action and a meeting was arranged with Leinster Secretary Ronan Pelow, who has continued to be a great encouragement.

The club completed the required formalities and were accepted at the Branch’s AGM, allowing the business on the pitch to begin.

The Co Kildare side got off to an innocuous start with a 5-0 friendly defeat at the hands of Kilkenny’s first team, a tough ask for many of the players who hadn’t played in several years.

However, a 3-0 friendly win followed over Naas II before the league campaign started with a tough 3-2 win over UCD, Athy being fortunate to catch the students at the start of term.

A run of five further wins was brought to an end with a 0-0 draw with Corinthian with former South East Wanderer Graham Hill having an inspired day between the posts.

Further wins followed into the New Year until a crunch, top-of-the-table clash with UCD in Belfield. Athy saved their best performance for the big day with a 2-0 win in a highly competitive game.

A 2-0 Monday night win over Weston a fortnight ago brought Athy up to 44 points, the maximum UCD could reach and the aforementioned 2-0 win over Kilkenny last Saturday brought Athy over the finish line.

Among those who made the season a memorable one were goalkeeper Kevin O’Toole who had never even seen a hockey match before the season’s start but, hailing from a town that has produced both Henderson brothers and Fingal’s Nigel Grothier, he took to net-minding like a duck to water.

Trevor White fitted in seamlessly following his move from South East Wanderers while goal scorers in-chief were Neville Kavanagh and Warren O’Donnell, captain and chairman, respectively.

Treasurer Gary Bailey and Match Secretary Barry Ashmore combined those roles with playing for the club while the club also is thankful to sponsors Pearson International Milking Machines.

Athy now hope to finish their season with a bang when they combine with their ladies team at the MayFest in Three Rock Rovers.

The club are already planning for next season and have already signed up two new players and are hopeful of a couple more over the summer.

The mixed hockey games will continue over the summer on Friday nights at 7pm in Athy RFC so if interested, male or female, in a social game or to join the club either email or call up to the astro pitches in Athy RFC on Friday nights.

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