Athlone Town prepare for third successive Women’s National League campaign

The 2022 SSE Airtricity Women’s National League season will commence on Saturday, March 5, two weeks after their male counterparts resume competitive action.

All teams will have 27 matches to contend with as the league now comprises ten clubs rather than nine as heretofore. It means all teams will be in action every week rather than in 2021 when one club was idle.

Sligo are the latest club to field a senior team nationally and add extra spice to the mix for old rivals Athlone Town who are heading into their third campaign. Rovers will be managed by former Athlone player, Steve Feeney. The season is set to conclude with the cup final on Sunday, November 6, at Tallaght Stadium.

The 2021 season was a landmark one for the women’s game at all levels with the Ireland team still on course to secure a place in the World Cup finals. Nationally, record attendances, televised games and new sponsors was the reward for the greater interest shown.

There was one of the most exciting title races in the league’s history as Shelbourne pipped Peamount on the very last day. For Athlone Town, it was generally a satisfactory campaign as they consolidated their position after only joining the League in 2020.

The opening fixtures on the 2022 list has thrown up a tough test for Tommy Hewitt’s charges. Two of the opening three encounters will see cup winners Wexford and League champions Shelbourne provide the opposition.

The campaign gets underway with a home game against the cup holders. Sligo will also have a baptism of fire as they visit last year’s runners up Peamount.

Athlone Town’s first away game sees the Lissywollen club visit Dublin to take on Bohemian FC. Next up are Noel King’s Shelbourne who will be looking to retain their title. Another home game follows when Galway are entertained at the end of March.

History will be made a month later when newcomers Sligo are the visitors. There will be a mid-season break from June 12 to July 1 with action resuming when Cork City are the visitors.

The first round of the cup will take place a week later with the quarter finals set to be decided in early August.

The end of the season games look to be somewhat kinder to Athlone than the opening ones appear to be. A trip to the Markets Field to take on Treaty United is followed by the last home game when Galway pay a visit.

The League season ends in Dalymount Park for a game with Bohemian FC. There is little respite for the successful teams as the cup final follows a week later.

Athlone will be hoping to improve on their 2021 season finish and try to make the big breakthrough into the top half of the table. After a slow start, the Town did well to finish ahead of Cork and Treaty and just behind Bohs on goal difference.

Hewitt has been busy assembling his squad and is sure to have his team well prepared.

 

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