Athlone Town will hope to get off to a good start in Friday evening’s SSE Airtricity League First Division opener away to Waterford United at the RSC.
Eddie Wallace’s team have worked hard ahead of the campaign in pre-season and will be keen to make an impact in the south east.
Having played several games since the end of January Wallace has provided his reshaped squad with plenty of opportunities to shine. In the majority of matches Athlone have proven to be solid defensively which bodes well for the upcoming campaign.
There is a nice mix of youth and experience in the Athlone ranks with Wallace stitching a panel of players together that will be confident of making a promotion push. Philly Gorman’s goalscoring prowess is proven at this level so Athlone possess one of the most clinical finishers in this particular division.
Elsewhere Eric Foley’s midfield drive will enable Athlone to be competitive in the centre of the park, while the fact that Stephen Quigley, Brian Shortall, Aiden Collins, and Derek Doyle are seasoned League of Ireland performers is another notable aspect.
Wallace has recruited decent footballers like Daniel Purdy and Ryan Doolin too so Athlone can respond following last season’s disappointing relegation. Waterford will field a young and lively starting XI so Athlone must be bright and busy from the outset. Avoiding defeat would represent a satisfactory result for the Midlanders, who are quietly confident of enjoying a productive year.