Temple Villa Elks lifted the Stacey Cup and were crowned ADSL Futsal Champions on a night of amazing excitement and drama in a packed and pulsating AIT Sports Hall on last Thursday night.


The most successful and best ADSL Futsal Tournament yet came to a sensational climax when the Temple Villa Elks came from behind in an absorbing Final to beat a gallant St. Peters 2-1 in the last of 86 games that riveted and enthralled the capacity attendance.


A fantastic tournament had already seen 72 Group qualifying games that produced 287 goals before the eight qualifying teams lined up in an impressive Opening Ceremony on Thursday evening as a prelude to a night of amazing action. Those eight qualifiers contested 12 games in two Pools with the two Pool winners emerging to contest the Grand Final.


In Pool 1 the eventual champions, the Temple Villa Elks had to work very hard just to get out of the Pool. The very first game set a very high standard. Hodson Bay Celtic were having the better of the Elks but could not convert any of their many chances. The Temple Villa Elks took the lead with a mazy run and super finish from Odhran Lawlor which was all that would separate the sides. In their next game the Elks were hanging on, down 2-1 to their club colleagues, the Roan Sweeney inspired Temple Villa Huskies and survived a thunderous shot of their crossbar to turn it around to win a remarkable game 3-2. The Elks then ran out easy winners over Ballinahown to clinch a place in the Final.


Meanwhile over in Pool 2 Ballinasloe equalised in the very last second to earn a 1-1 draw with the AC Celtic Aces which opened the door for St. Peters who took full advantage with a 2-0 win over the St. Joseph’s Pumas. St. Peters built on that with big wins over AC Celtic and Ballinasloe to top the Group without conceding a goal to reach the Final to the unconfined joy of their huge and enthusiastic support.


Hodson Bay and AC Celtic Aces finished runners-up in their Pools to contest the 3rd/4th Place Play-Off with the Ballybay Boys eventually emerging triumphant in a great game.


All then was set for the last game and the Final of a simply fantastic Tournament.


St. Peters had the better of the first half. They enjoyed more and better possession and confined Temple Villa to quick counter-attacks but the Elks could find no way past a brilliant Patrick Reilly in the Peters goal.


St. Peters took the lead early in the second half with a stunning Conor Gavin goal and the roof almost came off the building. But Temple Villa stormed back and were soon on level terms with a great strike from Cillian Lawlor and an unbelievable atmosphere went up even another notch. It seemed that the Final was destined for extra-time but in the closing moments Odhran Lawlor got on the end of a great Villa move to score the most important goal of the Tournament, and one that crowned the Temple Villa Elks as Stacey Cup winners and ADSL Futsal Champions for the fourth time in seven years.


St. Peters had a measure of consolation when Adam Dowling received the Award for Player of the Tournament but more than that they played a huge part in making a great Final and together with all the other competing teams combined to make this the best and most successful ADSL Futsal Tournament to date.


The AIT Sports Hall has been a magical place to be for the last two weeks. This competition just gets bigger and better and the obvious unconfined joy of all the participating players was clear to see while the entertainment value for the record huge crowds was immense. The competition is superbly organised and is truly a wonderous and magical event. The Athlone District Schoolboy/Girl League and the Athlone Institute of Technology deserve huge credit, commendation and congratulations for a magnificent Futsal Tournament.   


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