League Preview: Athlone Town -v- Galway Unitedby Eoin Rosney
Athlone Town will be looking to pick up their first three points of the season on Friday when they welcome Galway United to Lissywollen on Friday night (Kick off 19.45).
Adrian Carberry made 17 new signings during the window, and it paid off last weekend, when debutant Adam Wixted struck deep into injury time to earn Athlone an impressive point away at UCD on the opening night.
Athlone come into the game as the underdogs but will be quietly confident of upsetting the odds. They looked impressive in large spells of their game against UCD and despite going behind in the last 20 minutes, they still salvaged a point. Carberry admitted afterwards, while speaking to Extratime.com, that there is a different mentality with his squad this season:
“Last year, after dominating, and playing some great patches, we would have fallen behind and you were saying that’s it, curtains.
“Not this year though. We have different types of players that can cause problems from anywhere. We have that danger, we have players that can come in and change the team, so it’s really a better squad overall”.
Speaking about the squad overhaul, Carberry admitted that it is a building process, which will ‘take time’.
“It needed to happen, we needed to make sure the club was stable off the field after a hard-few years. We’ve done that now and we have strengthened the team on the pitch, and that will be the case going forward.
But bringing that amount of players on and making their debuts, it will take time. I think the best is yet to come from us and we will continue to work hard going forward”.
Excluding Shelbourne, Galway United are the favourites to win the Division, and so picking up early momentum will be seen as essential to mount a title challenge this season. The two favourites went toe to toe on the opening night sharing the spoils in a 0-0 draw.
Considering Shelbourne were down to 10 men for over 50 minutes of that game, Galway will certainly be the more disappointed of the two, and they will be looking to claim all three points this time around.
Speaking ahead of the game against Athlone to the club’s media team, manager John Caulfield is expecting a ‘huge test’ on Friday night,
“It is another huge test on Friday night. Athlone had a fantastic result against UCD to start the season and have a very good team. They have brought in a number of good players with experience and will be looking to compete for the division title
“It’s another game we look forward to and we have been working all week for it, but we know how difficult it will be. Every week you have to be on your game. It is a highly competitive league and we know we have to play to our best standards to get results.
“With the one automatic sport, it is going to be a real challenge for all the teams, but all we can do is be on our top form.”
Referee: Michael Connolly
The sides met twice in the League last year. They played out a 2-2 draw in Eamonn Deacy Park in August before Galway enjoyed an emphatic 4-1 victory in the return fixture.
Since Galway’s relegation to the First Division in 2017, Athlone have not beaten them in the league (5 wins and 3 draws)
The two managers tomorrow night, Adrian Carberry and John Caulfield both enjoyed spells as players with their opponents. Caulfield played for Athlone in the 1983/84 season while Carberry played on the banks of the Corrib between 2001 and 2005.
Athlone Town 13/5; Draw 13/5; Galway United 4/5
Athlone 1 Galway 1.
Injured: Francely Lomboto
Doubtful: Padraic Cunningham, Ruairi Keating, Stephen Walsh.