Town begins to tentatively dream of title

With just five games remaining, the idea of Athlone Town playing in the top tier of Irish soccer is beginning to be thought of as a possibility for the first time in a generation.

Promotion to the Premier League could be mathematically secured as early as September 20 in Salthill, although it could yet go to an epic, if nerve-shredding home derby against Longford in the last game of the season.

With second-placed Longford Town and third-placed Waterford United - both only five points behind Athlone - playing tonight (August 30 ), a draw here to complement a Lissywoollen win would see the Town seven points clear with five games to go.

Athlone Town have been beaten just seven times this season, but four of those were in friendlies (Bradford City, UCD ) and cup matches (Shelbourne, Bluebell United ), with their last defeat in the league back on May 24.

Athlone Town have not played in the top tier since 1995, which means there will be people voting in next May’s local elections who weren’t even born then.

The club’s last silverware is even older than that, with the Leinster Senior Cup in 1992 being the most recent to have been shelved in Mel’s.

In line with the traditional superstition of football clubs worldwide, neither chairman John Hayden, nor secretary David Dully would risk the jinx by talking about the possibility of promotion, although the latter did admit he “was hopeful Roddy [Collins, manager] could repeat what he did with Monaghan”, where the Dubliner won promotion in his first season in charge.

The Town has three home game remaining - tonight against Wexford; September 27 against Waterford; and the biggie, October 12 versus Longford Town.

“Oh, the more [supporters] the merrier. We’ll take the biggest bandwagon we can,” smiled club secretary David Dully.

“We’re looking for everybody to get behind the club for the run-in and come down and support the club. Every game is going to be as difficult as each other on the run-in,” said Dully.

Lissywoollen has two ticket prices - €10 for adults, and €5 for students and OAPs. All under-14s are admitted for free. Tonight’s match kicks off at 7.45pm.

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