Despite parting company with their manager Mike Kerley this week, Athlone Town, will provide a tough test for Longford Town on Friday next the final local derby of th season at Lissywollen (KO 7.45pm).
Assistant manager Padraig Moran will take charge of first team affairs for Athlone for the remainder of the season, which might give the home side - currently fifth in the table - some renewed impetus.
On the three previous meetings between the clubs top side Limerick were in action against near neighbours Waterford Utd. Waterford definitely have been Limerick’s bogey team having won all three games against the League’s top team.
This season the Town and Athlone have played three times with the Town coming out on top in two games while the third ended scoreless at Flancare Park.
The opening game at Flancare Park ended 2-1 in favour of the Town with goals from Daniel Purdy and Mark Salmon scoring for us and Noel McGee got one back for the visitors. That weekend Waterford beat Limerick 3-1 at the RSC with goals from Keily (2) and Maguire while Gutherie replied for the table toppers.
The second meeting in Athlone ended 2-1 to the Town with goals from Colm James and Noel Haverty while the home side got a consolation from Mark Sherlock who saw red later in the game.
The same weekend Waterford travelled to Limerick and came away with a one-nil victory the only goal of the game coming just before half time from the very exciting Sean Maguire who is being chased by a host of cross channel teams.
Athlone have shown many changes in personnel in recent times as they tried to strengthen their squad. In recent weeks former Town player Sean Skelly, brother of striker Austin left us to sign for our midlands rivals.
Athlone’s last game in the League ended 3-0 in favour of SD Galway in Galway and that result doesn’t tell the whole story as Athlone had Sean Skelly and Niall Scullion sent off and both will miss the match on Friday.
Athlone despite their position in the table have a decent squad of players at their disposal.
Pat Jennings is a very good goalkeeper as the recent draw between the clubs would indicate. Former Town player Brian McCarthy is their mainstay in the middle of the defence, while another Town player Damian Rushe can play at right full or in midfield.
Noel McGee, who returned to the club this season, is one of the most dangerous strikers in the League when he is on form. He is a player that most managers would like to sign and he can turn a game if he gets a half chance.
The Town go into the game minus some regulars due to injury. The latest casualty is Gary Shaw, who reportedly broke his ankle at training on Friday last. The former Bray Wanderers player was getting to his best form after picking up some niggling injuries during the season and also in pre-season.
With Noel Haverty also ruled out and long-term injured Jeff Flood and Austin Skelly still out, the Town squad is getting a bit depleted but the good news for the manager is the fact that Craig Walsh is fully fit, Colin James is also available after a suspension and new signing Tony Griffiths got a full game against Mervue.
With players out injured we hope that the experienced players Alan Kirby, Keith Gillespie and recent new signing Robert Bayly will step up to the mark and drive this team on and keep the pressure on Limerick and hope for a slip up.
Darragh Reynor who recently joined the club has yet to get a run in the team even though he played in a few friendlies and looked to be a player with a lot to offer.
We have now reached the part of the season that we can not have any slip ups and a win is a must on Friday night.
After Friday’s game the Town are at home on Sat week 8th Sept against Wexford Youths.