AN INCREDIBLE run came to a satisfying close as Thomastown United’s A team clinched the Division One title.
A handsome 5-0 win in their last game of the league campaign saw the Blues overhaul long-time leaders Clover United to go up to the Premier Division as champions.
Such a finish to the season seemed unlikely at different stages of the campaign. At one time Clover were 10 points clear at the helm, while Thomastown made something of a stuttering start – two losses and a draw left them with just one point from their opening three games.
That 2-3 loss at home to Callan on November 13 was their last league defeat. Since then they recorded three draws against AC Kilkenny A, Newpark and Stoneyford United in a four-game spell but a 3-2 win away to Clover United A in January was the start of a six-game winning run, a record which also included three clean sheets.
The final step to the silverware was completed at Coolwagon on Sunday. Already relegated, visitors Freshford Town had little to play for but the expected goal rush didn’t come early on as defensive duo Gary Corcoran and Jamie Burke helped keep Thomastown scoreless.
Derek Lanigan was first to go close, ending a searing diagonal run with a shot that ricocheted off a post, while David Prendergast also had a free-kick tipped over the bar.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic. Freshford went close to spoiling the party when Ger Doheny’s attempted cross bounced into Shea Burke’s path, but Paul Dunne raced off his line to take possession before the striker could pounce.
At the other end United’s Dessie Walsh had some good chances before the half hour. The first saw him control a long precision ball from Kevin O’Neill on his chest before sending a searing shot just over. His second attempt was closer, as he latched on to Prendergast’s defence-splitting pass, but although he picked his spot in the far side Roy Condon got his hand out and clawed the ball back from its intended target.
They went close again when Stephen Connolly saw his piledriver of a shot cannon back off the post on 29 minutes before finally making the breakthrough on 36 minutes, Walsh finding room on the left to squeeze the ball between Roy Condon and his right hand post.
They didn’t have to wait long for a second goal, doubling their tally 60 seconds before half-time. It looked like Prendergast got it, turning Walsh’s cross into a shot which bounced down off the bar, but Eamon Lyster sped in to make sure the ball had crossed the line.
The tempo of the game cooled in the second half, but two goals in little over a minute gave United a handsome advantage. Freshford had gone close in attack when Jamie Burke’s snapshot was well held by Paul Dunne, before play swung down the other end.
Freshford seemed to have survived a scare when Derek Lanigan’s header clattered off the bar, but when play was forced back in Andy Kavanagh sent Walsh through to slip a low shot home.
The game was over when sub Marty Kavanagh made it 4-0 on 81 minutes, tucking a loose ball home after new keeper Shane McGree had made a fine save to deny Barry Maher from point-blank range.
They added a fifth six minutes from time, Paul Dempsey starting the celebrations when he slid in to knock a loose ball home after Maher’s free had been stopped by McGree.
Thomastown United A: Paul Dunne, Kevin O’Neill, Paul Dempsey, Robbie Kavanagh, Davy Wemyss, Eamon Lyster, Andy Kavanagh, Derek Lanigan (Peter Hanrahan, 81 mins), David Prendergast (Barry Maher, 68 mins), Dessie Walsh, Stephen Connolly (Marty Lawrence, 68 mins).
Freshford Town: Roy Condon, Ethan Hayes, Darren Burke, Jamie Burke, Gary Corcoran, Ger Doheny, Michael Burke, William Looby, David Burke, Shea Burke, Shane McGree.
Referee: Tristan Eardley.
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