Thoughts turn towards next season as Athlone Town aim to make signings progress

Athlone Town’s Adam Lennon has committed to the club for the 2023 season. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Athlone Town’s Adam Lennon has committed to the club for the 2023 season. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

The 2022 campaign was no sooner over for the Athlone Town senior men’s team when thoughts turned towards the new season and with Dermot Lennon and Gordon Brett remaining in charge, the task of assembling a squad could start in earnest.

Putting together a team is always a difficult task as many players are unwilling to commit while they keep their options open. Athlone however showed early intent as they tied down two of their star players for 2023. Adam Lennon had come back from UCD and added to his reputation with a number of good goals. Patrick Hickey had been a revelation in midfield and can look forward to a full season after signing just beyond the 2022 mid-season break.

The only confirmed departure to date is top scorer Thomas Oluwa, the chance of playing full time football with Waterford obviously proving too attractive to turn down.

Three more signings were to follow. Goalkeeper Enda Minogue, along with midfielders Aaron Connolly and Charles Mutawe, put pen to paper to continue for another season. Minogue had impressed between the posts while Mutawe also looked a bright prospect having started in the last six outings of 2022. Connolly was consistent in either defence or midfield and proved popular with his team mates who voted him their player of the year.

This month brought more good news as another trio re-signed for 2023. Vladislav Velikin will compete with Minogue for the number one jersey while Valerii Dolia would hope to get more game time in the new year. Centre half Aaron McBride had come through the underage ranks and played over 20 times for the Town last season. Athlone also did well to retain the services of Oisin Duffy. Being appointed team captain showed the esteem in which he is held after cementing a position in the starting eleven. It is understood that a number of players that were with other League clubs last season have also been spoken to with the prospect of them joining the club.

The early signs are positive but it will be another very competitive First Division when action gets underway in February. Finn Harps will seek to bounce back at the first time of asking following relegation. Full time outfits Galway United and Waterford will also seek to go up as champions following failure in last season’s play offs. Treaty United and Longford Town will also have ambitions of once more making the top five, while Wexford have already made significant moves in the transfer market under new manager James Keddy.

Athlone will hope to get off to a better start than in 2022 but it will not be easy to succeed. Staying ahead of Bray Wanderers, Cobh Ramblers and new boys Kerry would be a reasonable expectation though. Athlone are set to travel to Longford in the opening fixture while a first ever visit to take on a team from the Kingdom will be eagerly awaited. With ten teams now in the Division, there will be no idle weekends for Athlone.

 

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