ATHLONE Town FC and manager Mike Kerley have parted ways after the Limerick native's year and a half spell at the Lissywollen helm.
Assistant manager Padraig Moran has taken control of first-team affairs until the end of the season.
According to sources close to the club, a vote was taken by the committee last Thursday evening to ascertain whether or not they would continue with Kerley at the helm for next season. The vote concluded that Athlone would look at alternative options for the managerial role next season, the source said.
The source informed the Westmeath Independent that Kerley was told of this decision before first-team training last Friday evening, and that following the news, Kerley informed his players he would no longer be manager.
It's believed that Kerley, a former Limerick and Waterford Utd manager, intended to remain with Athlone.
Despite sitting in a comfortable fourth-placed position before the mid-season break - a feat most observers wouldn't have predicted in pre-season - Athlone's form dipped alarmingly following the league's resumption in June, with the Town taking a disappointing six points from a possible 24.
This run of form also included away defeats to the bottom-two sides, SD Galway and Mervue Utd.
When the league resumed on June 22, Athlone sat just one point behind third-placed Waterford Utd. However, a 1-4 loss at home to Waterford signalled a poor run of form, and the Town have since slumped to fifth (in the eight-team division), and are 15 points adrift of third-spot.
There has also been some level of discontent recently with Kerley's tactical approach, with many feeling his approach was impacting upon Athlone's ability to score goals.
However, Kerley undoubtedly made Athlone more difficult to beat in his first season in charge, and their win tally (nine) was the club's highest wins-per-season total since 2007.
Over the course of the previous three season's combined, Athlone had won just 19 times. Kerley can also be credited with introducing a lot of local talent into the first-team, with the likes of Brian Gill, Val Feeney and Joe Woods having established themselves in the senior squad.
Athlone native Moran, a former Hearts and Sligo Rovers players, has now been handed the reins at Lissywollen. And initial murmurings from around the club suggests that a good run of form between now and the end of the current Airtricity League season will put him in a strong position to assume control of team-affairs next season.
Moran's first full training session with the squad took place on Monday evening, with 24 players in attendance.
Moran will be assisted by the current youth-team management duo of Mickey Collins and Alan McCaul, while Anthony Sherlock has also been drafted into the coaching set-up. In a brief statement issued on Monday night, the club said: "Athlone Town FC can confirm that Padraig Moran will assume first-team responsibility for the remainder of the season following the departure of Mike Kerley. All at Athlone Town would like to thank Mike for his contribution to the club over recent years, and wish him luck in the future. We call on all supporters of the club to rally around Padraig, as he takes control of the team ahead of Longford Town's visit to Lissywollen this Friday, August 31, at 7.45pm."
Mike Kerley was unavailable for comment about the matter.
Kerley had been Athlone's 24th managerial appointment in the last 18 years (since the departure of the legendary Turlough O'Connor in 1984).