Two penalties from captain Christopher McCarthy, a brace from Stephen Christopher and a goal from debutant Cian Coleman helped Ramblers to a 5-1 win in front of their home fans
Two penalties in two minutes in the first half sent Ramblers on their way.
After 28 minutes captain Christopher McCarthy played a beautiful ball in for Ross Mann who was brought down by the onrushing Town keeper Igor Labuts, with referee David Berry immeaditely pointing to the spot. McCarthy stepped up and rifled home his effort from 12 yards, burying the ball into the bottom right corner.
Just a minute later referee Berry was again pointing to the spot, as Craig Donnellan was brought down by full back Fredrico Hernandez. McCarthy again stepped up, with ‘Kaka’ this time stroking the ball coolly down the left and sending Labuts the wrong way to double Ramblers’ advantage.
Stephen Christopher added Ramblers’ third on the hour mark, Ross Mann’s wonderful slide rule pass split the Town defence open, giving the unmarked Christopher all the time in the world to slot home.
With Dean Swords out due to a foot injury, Henderson went with Ross Mann to lead the line, with Scott McCarthy the only change from the side that drew 1-1 with Shelbourne last week, with new signing Cian Coleman starting on the bench.
It was Ramblers who came the closest to breaking the deadlock in the early stages, Ben O’Riordan rising highest to get his head on Craig Donnellan’s corner from the right after 9 minutes, only to see his effort come back off the crossbar with the keeper beaten.
10 minutes later the visitors had their first real attempt at goal, Walter Invernizzi’s cross from the right just went over the head of Ramblers full back Shane Lowth, however Jose Viegas volleyed wide from 12 yards out with the goal at his mercy.
Ramblers were in control after the two penalties, with Ross Mann going close to adding a third just before the break when his effort from a tight angle was deflected onto the post.
Mann again went close not long after as he beat Labuts to Anthony O’Donnell’s whipped cross from the left, only to see his flying volley go narrowly wide.
Ramblers started the second half brightly, with Karl Caulfield finding Mann with a clever pass from the edge of the box, Mann’s left footed shot hitting the side of the net.
With Ramblers in a comfortable position after Christopher had added the third, Henderson made a double substitution after 65 minutes, Matthew Whelan replacing Mann with Cian Coleman coming on for his Ramblers debut as he replaced skipper McCarthy.
Ramblers added their fourth when Coleman headed home from O’Donnell’s free kick after 82 minutes , with Christopher adding the icing to an already well frosted cake when he made the most of a Labuts mistake, disposed the Town keeper to slot home into an empty net.
Substitute Ethan Keogh pulled a goal back for the visitors close to full time, but it was Ramblers’ day, as Henderson’s young side left the pitch to the sound of the crowd chanting “top of the league and we’re having a laugh”.
Cobh Ramblers (4-3-3) : Hunt, Lowth (Fleming 78’), O’Riordan, McSweeney, O’Donnell, Caulfield, Christopher McCarthy (Capt) (Coleman 65’), Donnellan, Christopher, Scott McCarthy, Mann (Whelan 65’).
Subs not used : Sadys (GK), Murphy, Abbott, McNamara.
Athlone Town (4-3-3) : Labuts, Hernandez, Grigorous, Raftery, Brookes (Gaffey 88’), Sfrijan, Coss (capt), Feeney (Lyons 56’), Viegas ,Barry (Keogh 68’), Invernizzi
Subs not used : Dempsey, Maloney, King, Gleeson (GK)
Referee : David Berry