Luck was not on the side of Trinity’s senior footballers in Santry on Wednesday evening, as they bowed out of Division One after a frustrating loss against Athlone Institute of Technology in the relegation final. Paddy Christie’s side fell to a 1-12 to 0-17 defeat, consigning them to Division Two next year.

Athlone’s players showed their hunger for the win early doors by gaining the first score of the game. The hosts took a few minutes to get into the game, and were unlucky not to hit back after a long ball from James Guinness found its way into the path of captain Eoin O’Neill but was dealt with well by Athlone.

O’Neill got on the scoreboard first for Trinity, with Guinness following soon after with a point of his own. Guinness was also unlucky to see his attempt parried after a good run down the wing, before Nathan Doran kicked his first point from play.

Athlone’s players pressed on for another score. Good defensive work by David Lennon forced an attacker’s attempt wide of the target, but Athlone came back to register a first point from play.

Athlone’s tactic of driving down the middle proved successful, causing problems in the Trinity defence. Michael Shiel made a great stop to prevent a sure goal chance, before O’Neill and company popped over a few more points to stop Athlone running away with the game. However, Athlone’s solidity succeeded in frustrating the hosts for large periods of the game.

The hosts were awarded a few frees in the dying minutes of the half, with Gavin Dowling floored after a push in the back. Brian McGee took the free, which deflected off the post and came back out to O’Neill who got the last score of the half to ensure his side were only three points behind Athlone going into the break.

Trinity made a huge effort in the second half to push on for more scores, seeing Dara O’Shea work well to pass off a ball to Guinness on the run, but Athlone held strong to quash his efforts. Athlone’s attacking effort put Trinity’s defence under increased pressure throughout the half, forcing the midfield to track back and assist.

Doran eased his side’s worries slightly after swinging past his man to put over another point, but Athlone then retaliated with another score. Tensions rose, with O’Neill and O’Shea seeing yellow for Trinity while an Athlone defender was shown a black card for dangerous play.

A goal finally came for Trinity after Guinness was awarded a free inside the 21-yard line having being pulled down after making a great run into the forwards. McGee’s shot arrowed home to raise hopes of a comeback, but ultimately it was too little, too late, as the final whistle blew on their last game in Division One for the foreseeable future. They showed commendable fighting spirit in the second half, but struggled to convert a number of chances. Coupled with Athlone’s dominance in the centre of the field, Christie’s men were left to reflect on a disappointing night in bitterly cold conditions. Christie and his side must now rest up and focus on competing in Sigerson Cup in the new year, using this loss as a motivator to drive on for the championship.