With the weather playing havoc with all sporting fixtures last weekend, Athlone Town’s two games were postponed.
The first home game of the season against Cabinteely and then the EA Sports Cup first round tie against UCD fell foul of the weather. The Cabinteely game has been rescheduled for the Monday of the St Patrick’s weekend, with the cup tie against UCD following at the end of March. It means Athlone will now have six games in quick succession before the month is out.
Off the field, the big news was the departure of Roddy Collins after a brief spell in the newly created position of general manager. The Dubliner had come back to the club last May but was unable to replicate previous success as the team finished the campaign in rock bottom position.
Although stepping aside from active team affairs, Collins was still instrumental in bringing Aaron Callaghan back as first team manager. While it was not clear what Collins’ role entailed, fund raising was certainly high on the agenda, with Callaghan operating off an extremely low budget.
It was confirmed, “with regret”, on social media that Collins had “taken a step back from the club”. The statement noted that due to other commitments Collins was unable to continue, but will remain as an adviser to Athlone Town.
The club thanked Collins for his contribution, saying he did a superb job during a difficult time last season. Knowing the much travelled manager though, it should not be long before he is back in the game, in whatever capacity he sees fit.
On the field, action should resume at the weekend, with Athlone travelling to United Park on Sunday, March 11, to take on Drogheda United. Having taken on Galway United in their opening fixture, The Town again have to face a relegated club, with another in Finn Harps to follow later.
Under new manager Tim Clancy, the Louth team had a disrupted start to their campaign, as their home game against Harps was called off shortly before kick off by Athlone referee John McLoughlin. Inadequate floodlighting was given as the reason, but there should be no such problem this time with an afternoon start to proceedings.
While well adrift at the foot of the Premier Division table in 2017, hopes are high of a swift return to the top flight for the Louth team. Clancy has done well to retain the bulk of last season’s squad and they should compete at the business end of the table.
New Town signings - midfielder Jake O’Connor, on loan from Dundalk, and striker Rory McCullough, most recently playing in the USA - may feature for the trip to the north east. Having lost heavily in their opening game, Athlone will be anxious not to be cut adrift at the bottom so early in the season. However, Callaghan’s men will start at long odds to cause an upset on this occasion.