Article by @andrewdempsey921.
After much recent speculation and uncertainty on how Athlone Town could potentially line out on the opening night of the season away to Galway United, we have finally been given an indication into who Aaron Callaghan’s new side may feature following the club’s announcement on their new squad which will compete in the 2018 First Division.
Having open trials in Dublin and Athlone under the stewardship of both Aaron Callaghan and Terry Butler, the 2013 First Division Winners have assembled a squad that they believe is capable of competing in what will be an ultra-competitive First Division this season.
As exclusively revealed by our very own Kieran Burke of Between the Stripes, Athlone recently confirmed the signings of former Longford Town man Aaron Brilly alongside the signing of Irish Under 18 International Darren Kavanagh, but we were left in the dark as to who else may form the Athlone’s new First Team Squad.
News has finally broken, and we now know who will make up the First Team Squad at the League of Ireland’s oldest club for the forthcoming season.
Three Goalkeeping options have been revealed as part of Town’s new squad as Michael Fogarty, Sean O’Donnell and Nathan Murphy have all pledged their commitment to the club for 2018.
The trio are all new additions to the club following the departure of Conor Gleeson to Galway United and the well-documented suspension of Igor Labut’s following a match fixing investigation by the Football Association of Ireland.
Former Longford Town man Aaron Brilly returns to the Athlone Town Stadium alongside Cormac Rafferty in defence while Felix Bape Perez, Dan O’Donovan, Ger Smyth and Bashmil Nyakambili all form the rest of the defensive options. Amazingly Perez was formerly on the books as a youth player at none other than Real Madrid!
In a stacked midfield containing no less than 16 players, including former Longford Town cult-hero Etanda Nkololo and Irish Under 18 international Darren Kavanagh, Callaghan has moved quickly to build a large midfield base to choose from. Another part of the midfield options include Joe Carmody and Ryan Gaffey who both return to the club having come up through the ranks at the Athlone Town Stadium at youth level.
Finally, the attacking trio of George Mukete, Tzee Mustapha, Martin Walshe complete Aaron Callaghan’s squad. Mukete is a former St Patrick’s Athletic Youth Player, while Tzee Mustapha joins after a spell in Northern Ireland with Carrick Rangers, while newcomer Martin Walshe completes the line-up for “Town”.
It will be interesting to see how Athlone Town fare this season in what will be the most competitive First Division in years having endured a nightmare two-year spell in the First Division with fan unrest regarding the running of the club.
To add insult to injury they have come rock bottom in their last two seasons in the First Division, marking a significant fall from grace since their hey-day of 2013 where the Lissywoolen outfit secured Promotion back to the Promised Land of Irish Football.
Athlone Town will look to kick-off their season with a bang, starting off with an away clash against recently relegated Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park on the 23rd of February with a kick-off time of 7.45pm.
Full Squad List for Athlone Town
Goalkeepers: Michael Fogarty, Sean O’Donnell, Nathan Murphy
Defenders: Aaron Brilly, Felix Bape Perez, Dan O’Donovan, Ger Smyth, Bashmil Nyakambili, Cormac Rafferty.
Midfield: Josh Hogan, Steven Grogan, Brian Carbally, Shane Stokes, Ollie Hamzet, Craig Short, Barry Davies, Darren Kavanagh, Ryan Gaffey, Luke Kelly, Etanda Nkololo, Taigh Keogh, Robbie O’Leary, Eoin Roche, JJ Offorjama, Joe Carmody
Forwards: George Mukete, Tzee Mustapha, Martin Walshe