Preview | Athlone at home

This week sees the bottom two sides in the First Division battle it out, with both Cobh and Athlone sitting on 14 points. The Midlands side were 2-0 victors at home to Wexford last time out and now have two wins from their past three outings. The Rams come into the game on the back of last week’s 1-1 draw with Galway United, which featured Darragh O’Sullivan Connell’s halfway line free-kick.

In the three previous meetings between the sides in 2022 there have been a remarkable 17 goals. The Rams were 3-2 winners twice earlier this year before a disappointing 5-2 defeat at Lissywoolen in June.

Athlone have only one twice at St Colman’s Park in the last 21 years, the most recent of which came in March 2019. There have been signs of improvement at the Westmeath side of late as evidenced by their two recent wins over Wexford and Treaty. Thomas Oluwa has eight goals to his name this year and the former Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians man will be one to watch. Similarly midfielder Adam Lennon who returned from a spell at Premier Division UCD is certainly a talent in the Athlone ranks, while goalkeeper Enda Minogue is well-rated having come through at Bray and Bohemians.

For Ramblers Sean Barron remains absent through injury while there are concerns over Conor Drinan’s fitness. Harlain Mbayo does return from suspension however.

Defeat for either side would make a bottom placed finish all the more likely and for that reason expect a real battle between this historic pair of clubs.

Manager Shane Keegan spoke ahead of the tie,

“When we’re good we should be quick to say that and we were very good last Friday night. Looking to this week, since I’ve come in probably the most challenging thing has been taking the bull by the horns in games where we aren’t the underdog. Being the more creative side in a game. We need to meet that on Friday.

Athlone have two really good wins recently. I’ve watched them and they’re a decent side. It’s going to be tough but we have to develop a level of consistency. We can’t give the Corks and Galways a rattle and then not show up in games where we should have a better chance. I think it’ll be a cracking game.

Without a doubt we’re heading in the right direction. The quality is the dressing room is top notch and our performances have shown that. With the addition of three or four new faces and a few tweaks in the background, it’s not mission impossible to be pushing for those play-off spots next year.”

Kick-off on Friday in St Colman’s Park is at 19:45, with the game live on LOITV here.

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