JOE's Aitricity League Preview: Athlone Town
Colours : Home - Blue and black stripes. Away - all white
Home – Athlone Town Stadium
Manager - Mick Cooke
Nickname - The Town
2014 odds – 150/1
Newly promoted Athlone Town return to the big time for the first time since 1996. Promoted as First Division champions last season, they had a difficult close season with the resignation in controversial circumstances of manager, Roddy Collins. However, they’ve been quick to move and appointed the vastly experienced and knowledgeable Mick Cooke, who has had great success as manager of Drogheda United over the past couple of seasons
With one of the most impressive stadiums in the league, they have all the ingredients to be a success in the years ahead. The home ground has been the venue of choice for Irish underage international matches. As with all League of Ireland clubs, there have been many comings and goings within the squad through the off season. Mick Cooke is a clever man and although he may say in the press that Athlone’s main focus will be surviving relegation, he’s a wily enough character and we think he has the ability to do just that and more.
Athlone Town were once a dominant force in Irish football particularly in the early 80s were they won two leagues in three seasons plus three League Cups. Those halcyon days may be a distant memory, but it’s refreshing to see a once great club back where it belongs
Players in – Kealan Dillon, Niall Scullion, Neil Harney (pic below), Paul Skinner, Graham Rusk, John Mulroy, Philly Gorman, Craig Sexton, Conor McMahon, Jason Marks, Derek Prendergast, Alan Byrne
Did You know? – They held the might of AC Milan to a scoreless draw at home in the 74/75 UEFA Cup only to lose the return leg at the San Siro 3-0
Hopes – Athlone will hope to survive and cement their place back in the big time
Player to watch – Alan Byrne
If they were a big European club : They’d be St Etienne, Huge in the 70s and 80s followed by a spell in the doldrums and now making a revival.