Athlone Town conclude the first series of SSE Airtricity League Premier Division fixtures with a home clash against Bray Wanderers at Lissywollen this evening.
It has been an eventful week for Athlone, who suffered a 10th straight top flight defeat away to St Patrick’s Athletic last Friday, before manager Mick Cooke departed the club by mutual consent on Monday.
Keith Long, who had been strongly linked with the position before Cooke’s appointment, will now take charge as Athlone seek to open their seasonal account. Regarding Cooke’s departure Athlone chairman John Hayden said: “The club would like to thank Mick for the hard work, honesty, and integrity that he has shown in the job since replacing Roddy Collins at the start of the season. We would like to wish him the best of luck in the future whatever road he now chooses to take.”
Cooke who felt that Athlone were on the verge of earning some positive results, commented “Over the weekend after discussions with the chairman I feel that despite the team being so close to getting results I just cannot find the right button to get us over the line and gain the all important results we need.
“It was through these discussions that John Hayden and myself felt that new men at the helm was the best plan of action.
“I feel that 28 points will be enough for the team to remain in the Premier Division and by stepping aside now and letting a new man take charge they may find that button and with 23 games remaining it will give him a great chance of keeping the club in the Premier.”
Former Athlone chief Cooke was keen to highlight the support of those associated with the club. “I would like to thank the chairman John Hayden for the chance to manage Athlone Town and the support he has given me so far this season. I would also like to thank the brilliant bunch of players along with the backroom staff involved with the team for the tremendous loyalty they have shown me from the start.
“Thank you to the supporters as well for continuing to back me and the team throughout the games most notably at the end of the Dundalk defeat where they were tremendous as always. I would finally like to wish the club and the new management team when appointed the best of luck for the rest of the season.”