Athlone Town finally get to complete their prolonged season when they play St. Patricks Athletic in the final of the Leinster Senior Cup in Richmond Park on Wednesday night.
Some ten months after beating Dundalk in the first round, Terry Butler’s men have the chance to end 2019 with some silverware. Although without a competitive game in over six weeks, Athlone will still be fired up against what is set to be youthful opposition.
The first competitive game of 2019 back in February saw the Town travel to Oriel Park. League champions Dundalk were the opposition as Dean Williams netted the winner in an early season shock. The First Division campaign had ended when Athlone next had a game in the oldest cup competition in Ireland.
An almost full strength UCD were the visitors in the quarter final. John Morgan opened the scoring for the hosts but UCD then established a lead. A first senior goal from Adam Lennon in the second half looked to have sent the tie to extra time. Late drama in stoppage time though saw Ciaran Grogan pop up to score the winner.
Another Premier Division outfit were set to provide the opposition in the semi-final with Bohemians due to enjoy home advantage. A ball was not kicked though as the Dublin outfit conceded the game. It was not an ideal outcome but Athlone were not complaining as they now found themselves in a final.
The chance to win a first senior honour since lifting the First Division title in 2013 beckons. St. Patricks Athletic have seen off Cabinteely, Wexford and Sheriff YC on their way to the decider. The Saints were beaten on penalties by Shelbourne in the 2018 final. It is expected that most of the squad that saw off Sheriff in the semi-final will feature as faith was put in the clubs under 19s.
Jack Walker was the only player with senior experience. While games between the teams have been infrequent, a pre-season friendly saw Pats win earlier this year. The last competitive match between the teams was in the Premier Division back in 2014 when Kealan Dillon was one of the scorers in an away win for the Town.
Athlone’s last appearance in the final was over twenty years ago. Non-league Wayside Celtic upset the odds to lift the cup. Athlone had previously lost to UCD on penalties in the 1995/96 season.
Athlone’s last success in the competition came in 1991/92. The first game with St. Francis ended scoreless but the replay saw Athlone win by four goals to two. St. Pats and Athlone previously met in the final during the 1987/88 season when the then holders were deposed by the Town.
In their first season back in the senior ranks, a Jackie Mooney hat trick helped Athlone beat Shelbourne in the 1969/70 campaign. The next appearance came in 1975/76 when the most successful club in the competition Bohemians prevailed by the odd goal in seven. Bohs were again successful in 1979/80.