Day three of our LOI preview series is here with First Division club Athlone Town. Read our preview on Athlone below with Kerry and Cobh also available on the site. Club previews will continue to be released daily as we build up to the start of the 2023 season.
The League Of Ireland’s oldest club enter 2023 with a view to improve on the 2022 season, which saw them finish second from bottom, only above Cobh Ramblers.
This time last year, the town were entering a new season with a new management team, with former Bray Wanderers and UCD manager Martin Russell at the helm. Russell didn’t last long in the dugout at Lissywollen, leaving by mutual consent after picking up just one point from his opening eight games.
This time around, former Athlone manager Dermot Lennon is in the dugout, with Gordon Brett as his assistant. Lennon took over from Russell as interim following his departure last year and the side saw an improvement in form, so the permanent gig is his.
To give some insight into what to expect from Athlone this season, let’s take a look at who came in and who left during the off-season.
Athlone Town didn’t add a single player who played for another team last season. Whilst a good few of the players from last season have been retained, it’s a rarity to see a team build when they haven’t brought in any new faces.
Out: Thomas Oluwa (Waterford), Derek Daly and Stephen Meaney (Longford Town), Andy Spain (Treaty United), Jarlath Jones (Drogheda United).
Out of the players listed above, Oluwa is probably the most notable loss. The new Waterford man was a consistent starter last season, but was inconsistent in front of goal.
His pace and physicality was never in question, but there were many occasions where he missed chances he should’ve scored. Whilst he could be frustrating, his shoes may not be easy to fill.
Re-Signed: Adam Lennon, Patrick Hickey, Enda Minogue, Charles Mutawe, Aaron Connolly, Valerii Dolia, Aaron McBride, Vladislav Veliken, Oisin Duffy , Noah van Geenan.
Athlone should be glad to keep many of the names listed above. Adam Lennon, a former UCD player and son of manager Dermot, returned to the club halfway through last season and looked good throughout. Usually occupying the right wing, Lennon showed an ability consistently to cut onto his left foot and find the net, as can be seen in his brilliant goal against Galway last season.
Elsewhere, American Patrick Hickey also arrived mid-season and didn’t look out of place in midfield. Former Bohs keeper Enda Minogue also arrived mid-season and after churning through goalkeepers, Athlone seemed to find their man after Minogue demonstrated consistently he can be a good shot stopper.
Aaron Connolly played all of last season with the club and was one of the bright spots throughout. His brilliant free against Cork in the last home game of last season showed what he’s capable of.
As for aspirations, Athlone will obviously be hoping to flirt with promotion. The club have not managed to do so however since promotion in 2013, which led to a one-and-done season in the Premier. Given the lack of incomings, Athlone are likely going to find it hard to do it again.
In 2021 a playoff spot looked on, before form tailed off and Adrian Carberry left. In 2022 promotion never looked on, but the squad gradually improved as the year went on. If they can piece together a consistent year, an outside shot may just be on, but they’ll find it tough.
Prediction: outside the playoff spots. Lennon and Brett did a nice job with these players last season, but to seriously push major additions are a must.