Playing progress duly emerges in Athlone Town league campaign

Athlone Town midfielder, Ronan Manning, had a positive playing impact during his club’s league season and was duly awarded ‘Player of the Year’.  Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Athlone Town midfielder, Ronan Manning, had a positive playing impact during his club’s league season and was duly awarded ‘Player of the Year’. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

The 2020 season is not over yet for Athlone Town with an FAI Cup semi-final still to which to look forward at the end of this month.

The League campaign ended just four days before the shock defeat of Shelbourne in the cup with new manager Adrian Carberry looking back on a first season in charge.

A few eyebrows were raised when the former Town player was installed as manager following the departure of Terry Butler. The popular local man had lots of playing and coaching experience but taking charge of Athlone was a big step. The FAI regional coach may have been thrown in at the deep end but can reflect on a job well done with an extended cup run adding to the experience.

The First Division appeared to contain few standout teams with the title and promotion play-off spots all up for grabs. Athlone though, would have been happy to consolidate after the pre-season upheaval and a satisfactory second half campaign was pleasing.

The year started with a home game against Cabinteely and it was a new look Town team that took to the field in Lissywollen although a number of the 2019 squad remained. It was not a dream start however for Carberry as the Dublin outfit returned home with full points. One bright spot was the form of Ronan Manning who opened his goal account on the way to being Town top scorer.

An away game followed to take on Cobh Ramblers at St Colman’s Park but a loss was again the outcome. An early exit from the EA Sports Cup at the hands of Galway proved to be the last action for some time as the 2020 season was brought to a premature halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Action finally resumed again at the end of the July but there was no happy return for Athlone with a home defeat against Wexford. Manning was again on target in a three one defeat.

Carberry finally got his first point as manager with a draw in Galway although a late equaliser deprived the Town of an opening win. The first Midlands derby of 2020 saw Longford keep their winning run in the fixture going.

Athlone were now rooted to the bottom of the table with just a single point but the next game gave some hope that the corner would soon be turned. High flying Drogheda were the visitors with United very lucky to return home with a point following a six goal thriller. Manning was again in top form with a double while new signing Lee Duffy celebrated his first start with a goal.

Further losses followed though against UCD and Shamrock Rovers but a home draw in the FAI Cup handed Athlone a good chance of making further progress.

Fellow strugglers Wexford FC were the visitors and the Town finally had something to celebrate with a first win of the season and a place in the quarter finals. A first success in the league was soon to follow.

 

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