ATHLONE Town are looking to break their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division duck at Thomond Park tonight (Friday), as Mick Cooke’s takes his side to the Treaty City to face Limerick FC (7.45pm).
The Town have endured a miserable start to their first campaign back in the top-flight in 18 years, losing all seven league matches to date.
However, manager Mick Cooke is adamant that Athlone’s performances to date have deserved better reward and is confident the Town will soon find that winning feeling.
“To be honest, the players are having awful luck at the moment but we’ll keep going and I know our luck will change. The players deserve great credit for their efforts and we’re so near to getting some good results,” said Cooke.
The Town were defeated 3-2 by Derry City at the Brandywell last Friday night, despite taking an early lead through James O’Brien. Limerick, meanwhile, recorded their maiden victory of the season that same night, coming away from Dalymount Park with a 1-0 win against Bohemians. They had gathered three points from their first five outings, with their two defeats coming by one-goal margins.
Stephen Quigley (suspension), Aidan Collins and Neil Harney (both injured) are ruled out for Athlone, but Derek Prendergast is available after missing the Derry game through suspension. Alan Byrne has reached the mark for a one-match suspension having been booked against Derry. However, he will be available to play against Limerick before serving the ban in next Monday’s home game against in-form Dundalk (Lissywollen, 5pm).
Limerick have very few injury problems. Winger Danny Galbraith (hamstring) is “not too far away”, according to www.limerickfc.com and centre-half Michael Leahy is back in contention following injury. Speaking to www.limerickfc.com, Limerick manager Stuart Taylor predicted Athlone will be a hard nut to crack.
“They (Athlone) will be well organised, dogged and hard working. They won’t make it easy for anybody. The longer it goes on without a win, they’re going to work harder and there’s going to be some point where they’re going to get their first victory. We just need to make sure it’s not Friday night, be positive and build on last week. I watched Athlone against Bohs. They’ve got a goal in them – there’s no doubt about that. We must make sure that we’re switched on and solid defensively. But at the same time that we’re open enough that we’re attacking and causing them problems. Again, it’s about what we do. We’re at home and we all want to get that home win,” he told the Limerick FC official club website.