By Kieran Galvin
Athlone Town face their biggest game in several years this Friday night - which makes it all the more surprising that two junior soccer matches involving local teams will directly clash with the eagerly awaited showdown against Waterford Utd.
If Athlone defeat Waterford at Lissywollen this Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm), they will seal the Airtricity League First Division title and promotion to the Premier Division. Even a draw might be enough depending on the result of the Mervue Utd v Longford Town game.
If Athlone clinch promotion - they will have two more opportunities to do so if Friday night doesn't go to plan - it will be the first time for the Town to play in the top flight for almost 20 years.
The clash with Waterford - who are also in the running for promotion - is attracting huge interest and is sure to draw a big crowd to the Athlone Town Stadium. All eyes of the local soccer fraternity will be on this game.
However, leading local junior soccer outfit Willow Park - who have won the Combined Counties Football League Senior Division title for the past six seasons - face Mullingar Athletic at Willow Park at 8pm on Friday. Also, in the same division, Monksland Utd take on Melville Utd in a local derby clash which will be played in Lecarrow (kick-off 8pm).
To say the least, it's far from ideal for supporters and players of these three junior soccer clubs that games involving their teams should clash with Athlone Town's crunch game.
Surely alternative times over the weekend could be found for these games to be played?
Perhaps there are sound reasons why these games have to be played on Friday night? If so, we'd like to hear them - let us know what you think.
*See this week's Westmeath Independent for an extensive preview of Friday night's game including the views of Athlone Town manager Roddy Collins and staunch supporter Paddy Martin - and a breakdown of the promotion permutations.
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