Suddenly Athlone Town are acquiring belief and momentum as the Midlanders seek to avoid an instant relegation.
Central to Athlone’s recent revival has been the smashing form of striker Philly Gorman, who brought his seasonal account to eight when netting two opportunistic goals in last Friday’s success over Limerick FC.
Athlone, who registered one point in their first 12 games, have now won three in seven under new boss Keith Long to give themselves a lifeline. UCD’s subsequent victory over Sligo Rovers on Sunday was a blow, but Gorman has always reckoned that Athlone can maintain their top flight status. “I always thought even at the start of the season when results weren’t going our way that things would turn,” Gorman said. “I felt that we played quite well early on when Mick Cooke was here, we were really unlucky in some games like when Dundalk scored in the 94th minute from a penalty that was never a penalty.
“Things like that didn’t go for us, but I was confident with the team we had and the performances we were putting in that we could turn it around.”
Gaining in confidence Gorman is adamant that Athlone can make further progress during the coming weeks and months.
He said: “We believe we can get out of it, and I always felt that we could. We are only a few points behind UCD now. There is nearly half the season to go. What we must do is try to get something from every game. We aren’t really thinking about UCD, we are just thinking about the next match.”
With exacting assignments against Dundalk and St Patrick’s Athletic imminent, Gorman admitted it was vital to register a victory over Limerick. “It was a massive win for us, we have a couple of tough games coming up so it was important for us to get something out of the Limerick one. We really needed to get the three points so we are delighted.
“We are encouraged especially by the performances. Limerick did have a lot of the ball, but we got the early goals.
“Over the last few weeks the performances have improved and there is a bit of belief and confidence coming now that we are getting results. We have to try to keep that going.”