FORM went out the window in Leah Victoria Park last Saturday when Tullamore took on high flying Monksland United, the CCFL Senior Division champions, and produced one of their best performances to date as they grabbed all three points in an exhilarating game.
They began brightly and were first to threaten when Stephen Dwane played a great ball through to Dean Carroll who pulled it back for Patrick Robilliard to fire in a blistering drive that was brilliantly pushed around the post by Cathal Hannon.
Macdarragh O’Neill then got on the end of a long clearance and flashed his shot across the face of the goal while, at the other end, Kevin Brennan played in Dylan Jinks but Mattie Hynes got across to avert the danger.
Good play by Kevin Minnock saw him cut through the visitors defence but Hannon was quickly off his line to clear and then Barry Walsh played a lovely ball through to Dean Carroll but he was crowded out.
Monksland nearly jumped into the lead on 20 minutes when Andy O’Sullivan sent Dylan Jinks clear but Dean Molloy brought off a fine save at his feet.
Jinks again created danger when he beat the off-side trap only to be denied by a wonderful last ditch tackle from Mattie Hynes.
Tullamore went close on 28 minutes when Kevin Minnock played the ball inside to Macdarragh O’Neill who slipped his marker but, just as he seemed certain to score, his goal bound effort was deflected over by Les Browne.
The visitors hit back with Niall Fagan playing a great ball through to Dylan Jinks but his shot was kept out by Dean Molloy and Mattie Hynes again came to his sides rescue when he got back to dispossess Jinks as he raced in on goal.
With half time approaching Macdarragh O’Neill was injured off with David Maloney coming on as the interval arrived with the scores tied at nil all.
On the restart Monksland went on the attack with Kevin Brennan playing in Donal Beirne but Enda Ravenhill was alive to the danger and then Brennan drove in a low cross that was fired over by Dylan Jinks.
Brennan and Jinks again combined but Mattie Hynes got across to clear while, at the other end, Patrick Robilliard and David Maloney created an opening for Dean Carroll, but Cathal Hannon was quickly off his line to save at his feet.
As the Athlone side began to tighten their grip on the game David Jinks broke clear but he was denied by a fine tackle from Enda Ravenhill and then Conor Jordan’s long range effort was well held by Dean Molloy.
Tullamore hit back with Ravenhill and Maloney combining to send Derek Coolahan clear on the left but he just failed to find the far corner and then Coolahan’s low cross was fired narrowly wide by Dean Carroll. With 75 minutes on the clock the home side made the breakthrough when Patrick Robilliard picked out Derek Coolahan on the right and, when his first shot was blocked by the keeper, he followed up to drive the ball into the back of the net.
With Monksland still reeling Enda Ravenhill played a lovely ball through to Dean Carroll but he was denied by a great tackle from Kevin Gaylord while, at the other end, Barry Walsh did well to charge down Niall Fagan’s effort.
With minutes remaining Tullamore struck for the insurance goal when Dean Carroll raced on to a defence splitting pass from David Maloney and blasted the ball past Cathal Hannon.
They nearly added to their advantage in injury time when Patrick Robilliard played a clever ball through to Kevin Minnock but he just failed to make contact as the referee brought the curtain down on a superb team performance.
Tullamore have been blowing hot and cold in the CCFL in recent weeks but they have demonstrated that, when at full strength, they are a match for any team in the division.
In what was a hugely impressive display there were excellent contributions from Mattie Hynes, Enda Ravenhill and Dean Carroll, but the man of the match award went to their outstanding midfielder, Patrick Robilliard.
Tullamore Town: Dean Molloy; Barry Walsh, Mark Hayes, Mattie Hynes, Enda Ravenhill, Patrick Robilliard, Stephen Dwane, Glen McEvoy, Macdarragh O’Neill, Dean Carroll, Kevin Minnock.
Subs : David Maloney, Derek Coolahan, Niall Kearns, David Kluz, Tim Molloy, Ken Doyle.
Monksland United: Cathal Hannon; Les Browne, Keith O’Reilly, Enda Kenny, Kevin Gaylard, Donal Beirne, Kevin Brennan, Conor Jordan, Dylan Jinks, Niall Fagan, Andy O’Sullivan.
Subs : Alan Fox, John Stapleton, Cathal Joyce, Padraig Geraghty, Ian O’Reilly.