AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport.
This time last year, Athlone Town were exciting supporters around the league for the first time in many years thanks to a host of big-name signings arriving in County Westmeath. It was clear from the get-go that the Midlanders had ambitions for play-off places at the very least and when it became clear that dream would not turn to reality, manager Adrian Carberry paid for it with his job. Paul Doolin was appointed in hope of a late rally but Athlone Town’s season so petered out while Doolin couldn’t hit the road quick enough. Doolin’s hasty departure was perhaps a sign that the same level of investment would not be available for 2022 and upon reviewing the clubs transfer business to date, you’d have to say that seems to be the case.
James Doona (Cork City), Dylan Hand (Warrenpoint Town), Daniel McKenna (Warrenpoint Town), Kurtis Byrne (Bray Wanderers), Aidan Friel (Wexford), Conor Barry (end of loan), Adam Wixted (Warrenpoint Town), Stephen Meaney and Oisin O’Reilly (Galway United) have all exited the Athlone Town Stadium with the recent capture of former Bohemians attacker Thomas Oluwa the only signing approaching “marquee” status. There has been plenty of reinforcements from the non-leagues while it’s evidently obvious that Athlone have a number of players on trial that they have not publicised so far.
With three full-time teams in the First Divison this season, it’s going to be very difficult for clubs to compete off a shoe-string budget and that appears to be the task new manager Martin Russell has been presented with at Athlone Town. Last season there was an expectation of play-off qualification but twelve months on, such a result would be viewed as a massive bonus for the Midlands club.
BTS PREDICTION: 7TH
STAR PERFORMER: Thomas Oluwa (A run of games may bring the best out in this promising 21-year-old)