Athlone Town ended their 2018 season as they had started it, with a defeat. The opening game of the campaign had saw the Town lose in Galway and the season finished with another away defeat in Wexford.
In between, Athlone had collected just four points while also changing manager. Aaron Callaghan guided Athlone to just one draw while his replacement Terry Butler was slightly more successful as he shared the spoils on three occasions. It was generally a season to forget with the only victory coming off the field when Wexford were punished for fielding a suspended player. Athlone remained bottom of the table from the first weekend of action while the cup competitions offered no respite with an early exit from all of the knockout ties.
The season started with Callaghan returning as the opening fixture saw Athlone travel to take on relegated Galway United. Felix Perez scored the Town’s first goal of the campaign but it was mere consolation as the hosts easily won. Their second outing was a tough test as another relegated team Drogheda United were the opposition. The final score at United Park ended at six nil.
The home campaign got underway with the visit of UCD but it was the same outcome, another defeat. With outfield player Luke Kelly lining out in goal, Athlone were beaten by Cabinteely. The first Midland derby of 2018 against Longford at the City Calling Stadium saw the home team score five times to further embarrass Callaghan’s men.
An early exit from the EA Sports Cup followed but a surprise result against fancied Finn Harps saw the Town finally open their points account. The Donegal outfit fought back after Shane Stokes had handed Athlone a shock lead. It counted for little however in terms of confidence building when Shelbourne put seven past the Town in Tolka Park early in April. Cobh Ramblers were next up to collect all three points with Brian Cabraley sent off.
The low point of an already dreadful season came next when fellow strugglers Wexford FC scored seven without reply at Ferrycarrig Park. Another home defeat against Shelbourne in the Leinster Senior Cup was the final game of Callaghan’s short reign. A six month ban for breaching the terms of an earlier suspension added to Callaghan’s grief.
Assistant manager Butler took charge for the remainder of the season. There was no immediate improvement thereafter, as Galway completed the double with a three nil victory in Lissywollen. Further defeats at home to Drogheda and away to UCD followed. The second Midlands derby saw Butler finally gain his first point as Aaron Brilly scored against his former club.
It was back to the drawing board though as four straight defeats followed. The last outing before the mid-season break saw Athlone return empty handed from St Colman’s Park as a single goal proved sufficient for Cobh Ramblers.
The return to action saw just two further points earned, against Cobh and Shelbourne, with a dreadful campaign finishing empty handed in Wexford