White Smoke Emerges from Athlone Town Stadium as Midlanders finally confirm 2018 squad

Article by @andrewdempsey921.

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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

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Brilly returns to Athlone ahead of tonight’s squad announcement

Article by Kieran Burke – @KieranBTS.

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After much speculation and questions from both Athlone and League of Ireland fans in general,  Athlone Town AFC last night revealed to Between the Stripes that manager Aaron Callaghan will reveal his senior squad for the 2018 First Division season tonight (Monday 05/02/18). However, Between the Stripes can exclusively reveal that former Longford Town and Cabinteely defender Aaron Brilly has agreed to return to the club he left for Home Farm last season.

Brilly (21), departed Athlone mid-season with the Midlands club gripped in the midst of a match-fixing scandal involving two of its foreign players, Igors Labuts and Dragos Sfrijan, who were subsequently banned for 12 months each by the FAI in a controversial case. With Athlone glued to the foot of the second tier and Brilly strangely being over looked by then manager Ricardo Monsanto on a consistent basis, the youngster decided to cut ties with the club and soon signed for Dublin based Home Farm.

Despite his tender years, Brilly is already a well traveled player in terms of the number of clubs he has represented. Starting out with Longford Town’s under 19’s in 2012, Brilly’s leadership qualities were evident long before he was named as captain of the underage side whom he would represent proudly until his departure from the club in May 2014. Having impressed Town boss Tony Cousins enough to earn a handful of senior appearances during his time with the club, it was a surprise to many Longford supporters that Brilly was shown the door by the former Galway manager.

A spell with Northern Irish Football League club Newry City was to follow before the Dubliner arrived at Cabinteely in time for their inaugural season in the League of Ireland. Brilly played in ‘’Cabo’s’’ famous opening day win over Wexford Youths and went on to make nineteen appearances for the Stradbrook club that season. Twenty-six appearances were to follow in 2016 before Brilly made the decision to join Athlone in February of last year.

Ahead of Aaron Callaghan’s squad announcement tonight it appears as if Brilly may be joined by two more former Longford Town FC players as Kaleem Simon and Etanda Nkololo both scored for the ‘‘ Blue and Black’’ in a 2-1 pre-season win over Lucan United at the weekend. Simon had only recently been on trial with Premier Division outfit Limerick, while Nkololo was a league winner with Longford in 2014 and starred for Athlone following his summer arrival at the club last season.

“El Clasico”preview – Longford must show character following Cobh humilation

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Expect a red hot atmosphere when Longford’s “Jolly boys” come to Town for Friday’s derby.

Arch rivals Athlone Town and Longford Town will reunite on Friday night at Lissywoolen, and despite the familiarity of this derby game over the last decade or so, there will be a very new look to this “El Clasico” fixture. Continue reading